Several injured in melee between police and locals
Baraka Karama and Hillary Mageka
Several people were yesterday injured in Kondele, Kisumu County following a confrontation between police and residents, who wanted President Uhuru Kenyatta to address them before proceeding to Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium for the Madaraka Day celebrations.
The residents chanting “tunataka Rais Uhuru (we want President Uhuru)” blocked the President’s convoy demanding that he addresses them.
Police and presidential guards had a rough time clearing the way for the Head of State and were forced to lob teargas canisters to disperse the crowd, which included hundreds of boda boda operators, who were riding behind the presidential motorcade.
Erick Ochieng, a hawker, chanted as the President’s motorcade approached the area, a boiling pot for Kisumu politics: “Each time the President passes here, he must address us but today instead of him talking, the officers are beating us.”
Some of the residents suffered minor bruises in the melee and were treated at the nearby Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital and discharged.
The police had earlier tried to clear the road but matters got out of hand as the President started acknowledging their greetings from his limousine’s sunroof.
At this point, they attempted to block the road so that he could address them.
The commotion forced the security detail to alight and clear the crowd and when they appeared to get overwhelmed by the huge crowd, they started lobbying teargas canisters.
“We love the President. That is why we came out in large numbers to welcome him because we fully support the Handshake,” Milka Ochieng, a saloonist, said.
Kondele area has been the epicentre of political violence, especially after elections. The area, which was once nicknamed “Darfur”, has been on the limelight for all the wrong reasons.
However, since the March 2018 Handshake between the President and opposition chief Raila Odinga, Kondele has been relatively calm.
During his last visit in Kisumu last year, thousands of residents stopped the President’s motorcade demanding his address. He obliged.
Yesterday, the President received warm reception while heading for the celebrations.
The residents thronged the streets to catch a glimpse of President’s motorcade, as it made its way to the stadium.
Holding their national flags, they waved at the Head of State as hundreds followed the President’s motorcade with their motorbikes,
Besides yesterday’s incident, the area has not experienced an ugly security incident in the last three days.
Experts attribute this partly to the cordial relationship between the President and Raila and better security planning.
Kisumu County Commander Samuel Kanampiu said there was no major incident and he attributed this to proper planning and the fact that they had engaged the locals in general policing. “We were not caught off guard,” the commander said.