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World

Kenyans Experience Deadly Violence Before Supreme Court Decision

ELISE HU, HOST:

Kenya's opposition leader has flown back home just days before a big decision by the country's Supreme Court whether to uphold the country's rerun of its presidential election. His homecoming was marked by violence that left at least five people dead. NPR's Eyder Peralta reports from the capital.

(SOUNDBITE OF SIREN)

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Today has been a really chaotic day in Nairobi. The opposition leader came in from the United States, and police have been battling on the streets with protestors.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)

PERALTA: The day did not start off violent. Throngs of supporters came to the airport to welcome Raila Odinga, and he led a caravan across the city. All this time, Odinga has been calling for new, fair elections, but it became apparent that he was returning to Kenya with different intentions when he was introduced to by his right-hand man, James Orengo.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JAMES ORENGO: I want a repeat without any fear of contradiction. (Unintelligible) Raila Amolo Odinga will be the president of the Republic of Kenya.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

PERALTA: As Odinga moves closer to the city center, things turn violent. His supporters set cars on fire. They build roadblocks and loot stores. Police used tear gas and fire blanks and probably some live rounds into the crowds because at least one man is killed and left bleeding in the middle of the street.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)

PERALTA: The opposition claims that Raila Odinga's car was hit by a bullet, but police say that's not true and that the people who were killed were stoned to death. As the sun begins to set, I notice Victoria Kibongia. She's in a suit, an older lady with a handkerchief over her face.

Did you just get hit by tear gas?

VICTORIA KIBONGIA: Yes.

PERALTA: She says she's not angry. The government has no option but to protect its citizens. The one she doesn't understand is Raila Odinga.

KIBONGIA: What is he fighting for? He will only find himself fighting for a losing battle.

PERALTA: But just down the street, Wycliffe Otieno is pouring water on his face, and he's angry.

WYCLIFFE OTIENO: I was just coming from work. I was going home softly without hurting anybody.

PERALTA: When do you think this ends? Does this...

OTIENO: It will not end today because if I see like this, that is the beginning.

PERALTA: He says today is just the beginning of a new struggle. Eyder Peralta, NPR News, Nairobi.

(SOUNDBITE OF AESOP ROCK SONG, "NO CITY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.