Kenyan businessman shot dead, opposition sees political motive

Reuters News
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Posted: May 06, 2016 8:36 AM

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenyan businessman and government critic Jacob Juma was shot dead in his car late on Thursday in Nairobi, the police said on Friday, a killing the opposition said appeared to be politically motivated.

There was no immediate comment from the government, but officials have repeatedly accused the opposition of seeking to stoke tensions with what they say are trumped up accusations against the government ahead of next year's elections.

Police spokesman Charles Owino said the reason for the shooting late on Thursday was not clear. "We cannot get a motive unless we manage to get the killers," he said, adding that the case was being investigated.

Nairobi has a reputation for violent crime, often associated with robbery. But when it involves politicians or business executives, the public often lay the blame on the settling of political scores or commercial rivalries. Many crimes go unsolved.

Kenyan media reported that several shots were fired at Juma's car. They published images online showing the vehicle with shattered glass.

Juma often wrote on Twitter about corruption and accused the government of mishandling public funds. He also voiced support for opposition leader Raila Odinga. His Tweets included suggestions that some officials wanted him dead.

“He was a critic of the government on issues of corruption and mismanagement of public funds,” Odinga's spokesman Dennis Onyango said, adding he believed there was a political motive. "It is an attempt to silence (such) voices."

President Uhuru Kenyatta has repeatedly said one of his government's priorities is clamping down on corruption.

Juma was involved in businesses related to mining, real estate and government supply contracts. In 2013, he was embroiled in a row with the mining ministry after it revoked a license held by Cortec Mining Kenya, in which Juma was a director.

"The assassination of Jacob Juma ... was that - an assassination!" John Githongo, a former government anti-corruption officer, wrote on Twitter.

In February 2015, a Kenyan lawmaker was shot dead at night in the center of Nairobi. Investigations never fully explained that killing to the public.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Writing by Edmund Blair; editing by Dominic Evans)