Police beat Kenya's green protesters
Tuesday 02 February 1999
Police used tear-gas and clubs against the students, who since Friday evening had been burning vehicles in the capital, Nairobi, as part of their anti-government protest. The deputy vice-chancellor of Nairobi University, Crispus Kiamba, announced that the college had been closed indefinitely.
New anti-riot armoured vehicles imported from South Africa were deployed for the first time yesterday, with tear- gas and rubber bullets.
Witnesses said that more than 1,000 students clashed with hundreds of riot police after the protesters blocked the Thika road, a main transport artery leading to the city centre. News reports said the Japanese and Ugandan ambassadors to Kenya had been assaulted by students who stopped their vehicles on the road.
The protests began over government land deals in the protected Karura forest on Nairobi's northern fringe, which the students say have involved a great deal of corruption. Over the past few months the deals have been condemned at both the local and international level.
Last month, the internationally known enviromentalist, Wangari Maathai, was reportedly beaten up by the police when she attempted to lead a protest and plant some saplings at Karura.
After commandeering tractors to storm the gates of the forest, the students shifted the focus of their protest to the streets of the capital and have now issued various demands, including the cancellation of the Karura deals and the release of arrested students.
The protesters are angry about the allocating of plots in the forest, which is government owned, for the construction of an upmarket housing estate.
Environmentalists say the forest is a vital green lung for Nairobi, a highly congested city with a population of more than three million. Suspicion is widespread that politicians and other members of the government have profited from the sale of forest plots.
At a news conference yesterday, the leader of the opposition Democratic Party, Mwai Kibaki, condemned the police violence and called on President Daniel arap Moi to resign. "It is particularly alarming and disgusting that the Moi regime has again resorted to the use of... repression and declared war against its own citizens to protect a few corrupt cronies," Mr Kibaki said.
State radio later carried a brief statement from Mr Moi, saying the protests had been sparked by "hatred and tribalism". He had yet to issue an official comment on the protests yesterday.
On Sunday, the Anglican Archbishop of Nairobi, the Most Rev David Gitari, said he would lead bishops in their clerical robes to Karura forest to join the demonstrations.
Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
The battle for control of Stieg Larsson's £30m legacy
Life & Style blogs
The 10 Best Scotch Whiskies
America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
GTA 5: Rockstar bans gamers stealing in-game money worth millions
Winter Solstice 2013: Shortest day of the year marked with 'knitted' Google Doodle
In pictures: Christmas in London through the ages
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
David Cameron takes his biggest gamble yet as he gets tough on Europe over immigration
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
- 1 Tim Sherwood challenges Daniel Levy to set out vision for Tottenham Hotspur’s future
- 2 French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 #Teamnigella: It’s the only side to be on
- 5 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Teacher of English - S...
£59999 - £80001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: A Top 10 firm in ...
£50000 - £75000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Project Manage...
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Year 5 Teacher - Gilli...