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Footage Captures Kenyan Parliament Session Descending Into Chaos Over New Security Law

Books were thrown and a shirt was ripped as Kenya's lawmakers battled it out on the house floor over the controversial new anti-terror legislation.
Photo by Ben Curtis/AP

A Kenyan parliamentary session Thursday descended into bedlam after opposition legislators disrupted a National Assembly debate on a controversial anti-terror and security bill with singing and chanting that eventually led to physical altercations. Despite the delaying tactics, the bill eventually passed today.

Footage of the session shows parliament members chanting in unison while cheering can be heard throughout the building. In a separate video feed from inside the hall, politicians yell and crowd the floor as other legislators attempt to continue on with the debate. At one point, a man clad in a green uniform throws a book at the deputy speaker.


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The disorder forced the session to adjourn on two separate occasions during the day and the live feed was eventually cut. But the the chaos reportedly later continued with an altercation between two lawmakers.

Legislators from the ruling party allegedly assaulted opposition members in an attempt to eject them from the assembly. One politician had his shirt torn, while other parliament members tore up and threw copies of the bill, which seeks to increase the number of days authorities can detain a terrorism suspect without charge, from 90 to 360.

Despite the interruptions, the ruling party succeeded in passing the bill, which will also allow the government to sanction news outlets if they publish information "likely to cause fear or alarm," according to Reuters. The legislation, endorsed by President Uhuru Kenyatta, will also make it unnecessary for security officials to obtain judicial permission before wiretapping someone.

Outside on the streets of Nairobi, police reportedly arrested eight protesters for participating in a small demonstration against the bill. According to the Guardian, officers fired off warning shots at the protesters. Critics claim the legislation infringes on free speech and other civil liberties.

Kenyatta has justified the controversial bill by citing recent terror attacks waged by Somali militant group al Shabaab in northern Kenya, and has pushed to boost security measures.

Kenya has seen an uptick in al Shabaab-led violence in the last year. Most recently, the country was shaken when militants murdered 36 works at a quarry in early December. That incident followed a bus attack at the end of November, in which fighters killed 28 passengers. Following the string of violence, Kenyatta announced that "our country and our people are under attack."

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Follow Kayla Ruble on Twitter: @RubleKB