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Kenya’s opposition protesters battle police

By Xinhua

Nairobi : Kenya’s anti-riot police fired teargas canisters to disperse opposition protesters in the port city of Kisumu and coastal city of Mombasa Wednesday.

Residents in both cities said the police used teargas to prevent the youth from holding anti-government protests but the protesters fought a running battle with the police.

“These people are defiant. The police are firing teargas canisters at them but instead of scampering for safety, they are regrouping and engaging the police in running battles,” Zachary Ochieng, a Kisumu resident told Xinhua by telephone.

Shops and business establishments remained closed ahead of the rallies, and in Eldoret, protesters erected roadblocks on the outskirts of town.

The opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party has called for three days of nationwide protests against the disputed presidential election as anti-riot police are patrolling the streets in 30 towns.

The ODM said it would press ahead with the protests, despite a police ban. Police chief Maj. Gen. Mohammed Hussein Ali have called the mass protests “inappropriate.”

Unrest in the country started after the electoral commission declared incumbent president Mwai Kibaki the winner of the Dec. 27 election after a vote-counting process that international observers say was flawed.

Defeated Raila Odinga insists he won the vote, and the ODM has called on the president to resign or share power.

Violence since the commission’s announcement has claimed more than 600 lives, has driven about a quarter of a million people from their homes, and shaken relations between the country’s dominant tribes.