A fist fight broke out in Kenya’s parliament session on Tuesday evening, that saw rival MPs trading punches. Tempers had allegedly erupted after opposition lawmakers made attempts to block discussions on the introduction of manual vote-counting for next year’s presidential election.
The reason for the manual vote-counting is given by the government as a back-up to the electronic system but opposition lawmakers feel that it is a way of rigging the polls.
This is not the first physical fight that has broken out during Kenya’s parliament session. Back in 2014, the parliament had approved sweeping anti-terrorism laws that rights activists warned posed a draconian threat to civil liberties and freedom of speech. Emotions ran high over the bill and the parliamentary speaker, Justin Muturi, was pelted with books, documents and other objects by opposition MPs.
At Kenya’s parliamentary session on Tuesday, the live video feed from parliament was cut after the fight broke. Journalists were then ordered out of the press gallery.
One of the opposition MPs, Millie Odhiambo, insulted President Uhuru Kenyatta, calling him “extremely stupid”. President Uhuru Kenyatta replied her at a later event to usher in the festive season, declaring that; “some idiots continue to insult me”.
The President, however, added that it was part of their freedom and seems to have ended his war of words with Millie Odhiambo; a local media station on Wednesday shared a picture of a Christmas card from the president, addressed to the MP.
On Thursday, opposition MPs stormed out of parliament, claiming that they have been assaulted in the house. The opposition Cord coalition said one of its MPs had a bloody face following Thursday’s confrontations with governing Jubilee party MPs.
The Cord coalition has gone to court to seek an injunction to block the changes which government-allied MPs have already passed as amendments.