Anti-government protests erupt in Kenya despite government statement that protests are illegal
Thousands of anti-government protesters marched through the streets of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, on Monday, despite the government’s declaration that protests are illegal.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga joined protesters on the west side of the capital where his convoy drew thousands of supporters and he addressed them at various stops to demand electoral justice and lower food prices .
Police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse supporters. Police chief Japheth Koome insists the protests are illegal, but Odinga says Kenyans have the right to protest.
Odinga and his party, Azimio la Umoja–One Kenya Coalition, are leading the protests against the rising cost of living and calling for the resignation of President William Ruto, claiming he was not validly elected in the Kenyan elections. ‘last year.
More than a dozen civil society groups issued a joint statement expressing concern over police declaring Monday’s protests illegal and urging authorities to respect people’s constitutional right to peaceful protest.
KENYAN ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTESTS LEAVE 1 DEAD, 31 OFFICERS INJURED, OVER 200 PROTESTERS ARRESTED
Over the weekend, Ruto urged Odinga to confront him directly and “stop terrorizing the country”.
Odinga said last week that the protests would take place twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.
Odinga’s plan during protests last week was to march to the president’s offices at State House, but police erected barriers to prevent public access and motorists were directed to alternate routes.
Ruto is currently out of the country to visit Germany.
Vice President Rigathi Gachagua shared photos of himself at his office early Monday morning and urged Kenyans to show up for work.
Nairobi’s central business district remained calm, but most businesses were closed on Monday morning due to uncertainty surrounding protests and the possibility of violence.
3 KENYAN LEGISLATORS, SEVERAL PROTESTERS ARRESTED AS ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTESTS CONTINUE
Violence directed at Odinga and his supporters has been reported. Some people attacked a farm on the outskirts of the capital belonging to the family of former president Uhuru Kenyatta, cutting down trees and carrying off sheep, according to local media. The former president backed Odinga in the 2022 elections.
The gas cylinder manufacturing company in Odinga, near the central business district, was pelted with rocks.
There was a heavy police presence in the capital and surrounding neighborhoods on Monday. Police dispersed the crowds that gathered in Kibera and Mathare, poor areas of Nairobi.
Kibera resident Emily Atieno told The Associated Press that she would continue to protest until “the price of baking flour is reduced”. Another protester, Mario Omari, said protests would continue until Ruto resigns from office.
Local media have been warned against broadcasting Monday’s protests. The Kenya Communications Authority said the broadcast of the protests last week had caused panic, incited the public and threatened peace.
The High Court, however, ruled that the authority’s opinion was unconstitutional and upheld media freedom in response to a petition filed by a civil society group, a journalists’ union and the Law Society.
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In 2018, Kenya’s main television channels were shut down for a week by the regulator after airing Odinga’s “mock” swearing-in ceremony where he claimed to be the people’s president. Odinga had rejected the 2017 election results and staged anti-government protests.
Last week, police threatened to take action against people pictured throwing rocks at officers.
They posted photos of people they said were wanted for crimes committed during the protests, but were arrested by local media for using old photos and others taken during protests in Burundi.