Business hurt as Kenya's Court ruling sparks violent demonstration

2013-03-31 10:28:57 GMT2013-03-31 18:28:57(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

By Robert Manyara, Njoroge Kaburo and Peter Mutai

KISUMU, Kenya, March 31 (Xinhua) -- Business suffered a major blow in the lakeside city of Kisumu and major towns where Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga enjoyed major support after the court nullified his petition challenging the election of Uhuru Kenyatta as the fourth president of Kenya.

In Nairobi, a group of protesters raided some businesses in some residential estates and looted property, set them premises ablaze as they expressed their opposition to the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the election of Kenyatta as the fourth president of Kenya.

Small-scale traders in several businesses premises located in at least estates including some slums in Nairobi recorded loss after the youth looted or torched those premises in protest.

Kisumu city known for his night life that generates millions of shillings to owners of social joints went in a somber mood after the result with key shows destined for celebration cancelled at the eleventh hour.

"We have decided to cancel our shows despite the input into it, the city is under fire, tomorrow morning (Monday) we will be back to Nairobi," said Phelix Odiwuor who organized a high profile comedy night in Kisumu, the home town of Odinga.

Other entertainment parties to celebrate Easter were also cancelled with organizers suffering heavy losses.

Supermarkets, shops and socials joints were a no go zone as owners decided to trade cautiously with their wares after the supreme court ruling that sparked riots in the city.

Some also suffered from looters who broke in and took away with properties such as television sets, computers and other household goods.

The effect of the riots were more severe in Kondele, Mamboleo, Nyalenda slums where youths barricaded the roads and turned into toll station as they took advantage of police access to loot properties in areas that police could not access.

Night raids mounted by youths allegedly fighting for Justice Course targeted everybody irrespective of political affiliation after the demonstration turned into robbery.

The ever busy Kibuye open Market that attracts traders as far as Congo was a mere skeleton of itself with most stalls remaining unoccupied.

Kisumu Chamber of Commerce Chairman Bernard Kitoto said estimated loss stand at over 35,000 U.S. dollars, figures derived from losses from looting and wasted business hours.

By normalcy was slowly returning with business especially those within the town center opened on Sunday.

Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo said a special security team has been sent to the lakeside city of Kisumu to investigate the nature of injuries that the youths admitted there sustained.

He confirmed that two people died while seven others who were injured as a result of demonstrations are still hospitalized while four people were treated and discharged.

According to residents, all the victims have gunshot wounds that were inflicted by the police when the youth engaged them in running battles on Saturday.

"We have sent a special team of police officers to investigate the nature of the injuries. We have to investigate as a procedure, " Kimaiyo said.

Across check of Nairobi revealed that calm was now returning to several residential estates in Nairobi with the police appealing to the Nairobi residents to maintain peace.

Regional police commander Benson Kibui said the police have still been deployed across the city and in some slums to help contain any outbreak of violence.

"There is some relative calm but we are not taking any chances. We have deployed the police to monitor activities of certain youth are taking advantage of the political situation to loot property and rob people who are going about their businesses," Kibui told Xinhua on Sunday.

He said more people officers have been deployed slums in Nairobi where protests broke out Sunday morning against Saturday's Supreme Court verdict. "A few skirmishes are still there but generally the situation is returning to normalcy," Kibui added.

Kenyans had hoped the just concluded elections will be violence free and help redeem the country's image after the devastating violence of 2008.

The violence dented the East African nation's global image and eroded part of the respect the country enjoyed among its African peers.

Kenya is currently a champion of regional infrastructure projects like the rail, road and oil pipeline projects planned to originate from the Lamu Port in the coastal region and link to Ethiopia, South Sudan and Uganda.

Any sort of election related violence will raise the risk profile of the country and make its harder to attract investors for such mega projects.

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