Inquest opens on death of baby in Kenya poll violence

February 16, 2018

The American flag is burned by around twenty opposition protesters on a road leading the the U.S. embassy, at a demonstration against U.S. Ambassador Robert F. Godec, in Nairobi, Kenya Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. The supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga were protesting a recent statement by eleven western envoys, including those from the United States and Britain, which urged Odinga to recognize President Uhuru Kenyatta as the country's legitimately elected leader. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — An inquest started in Kenya’s western town of Kisumu into the death of a six-month-old baby who was allegedly hit on the head by police during opposition protests last year against President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election.

The death of Samantha Pendo (Swahili for love) shocked this country although it has become used to acts of police violence, including killings of suspects captured on video with no repercussions on the officers. At least 92 people, the majority of them opposition supporters, have died in clashes with police in protests against Kenyatta’s victories in elections in August and October.

Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified Kenyatta’s win in August citing irregularities and illegalities and ordered a fresh election on Oct. 26 which the opposition candidate Raila Odinga boycotted, citing inadequate electoral reforms.

Odinga held a mock inauguration Jan. 30 in which he had himself sworn in as the “people’s president.” The government reacted by shutting down some broadcasters, arresting some participants and outlawing the opposition National Resistance Movement.

The government also deported Odinga’s adviser, Miguna Miguna, despite five court orders for him to be produced in front of a judge and released on bail.

Eleven western envoys, including those of U.S. and U.K., have urged Odinga to recognize Kenyatta as president for the basis of dialogue to end the political crisis. Odinga has rejected the diplomat’s calls and told them to stop meddling in Kenyan affairs.

On Friday about 20 opposition protesters waved placards denouncing the U.S. ambassador for signing the envoys’ letter and they burned the American flag in front of the U.S. embassy in the capital, Nairobi.

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