The opposition on Wednesday for the third time called on the Kenyan people to demonstrate against the high cost of living and the taxes imposed by the government. During these rallies, clashes between police and protesters left at least two dead. More than 300 people were arrested.
The opposition’s call to demonstrate in Kenya was heard despite the ban on gatherings. Two people were killed on Wednesday 19 July during demonstrations against high prices and government policies in several cities.
“There are two bodies registered at the mortuary with gunshot wounds,” George Rae, head of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Hospital in Kisimu (West), an opposition stronghold, told AFP.Raila Odinga by phone. Fourteen people were also hospitalized, he added, after clashes with the police.
“More than 300 people have been arrested across the country and will be charged with a variety of crimes, including looting, malicious damage to property, arson, robbery and assaulting law enforcement.” , Home Affairs Minister Kithure Kindiki had previously said.
The mobilization seemed relatively calmer than in recent weeks. The previous day of protest, July 12, 9 people had been killed and more than 300 arrested.
This protest movement launched in March by the Azimio opposition coalition, led by veteran Raila Odinga, has in recent weeks given rise to vandalism, looting and violence that has left at least twenty dead.
Deployed in large numbers on Wednesday, security forces tear-gassed small groups who harassed them with stone-throwing, especially in Kibera, a slum in the capital Nairobi, and in the towns of Kisumu, Homa Bay, Kisii and Migori, pro. -Odinga strongholds in the western part of the country.
Hailing an “extremely successful” day, Azimio called on “Kenyans to come out even stronger” on Thursday, the second of three days of action planned until Friday against Ruto’s government policies.
Ruto accuses rival of fomenting ‘chaos’
Elected in August 2022 by promising to support the most disadvantaged, William Ruto is facing growing opposition, especially since the promulgation in early July of a law introducing new taxes, which add to the daily hardships of Kenyans.
Traveling to the city of Kericho, the head of state condemned his rival’s stance during the last presidential election in August 2022, which he accuses of fomenting “chaos”.
“We do not want a country of violence, fighting or destruction of property (…) The police must ensure that they are tough on criminals, gangs, anarchists and anyone who wants to sow chaos,” he said.
The government, considering these demonstrations “nothing more than a threat to national security”, had placed Nairobi under close police surveillance, as well as Mombasa (southwest) and Kisumu. He had also ordered the closure of public schools in these three cities. Schools will reopen on Thursday.
Third action day
This movement is dividing the people of Kenya, the economic locomotive of East Africa, which is fighting against persistent inflation (8% over a year in June) but is also being paralyzed by each day that the mobilization takes place.
Unemployed 47-year-old Fred Onzere supports the protest because he believes Kenya is “going in the wrong direction”. Monica Njoki wants these gatherings to “stop”. “The demonstrations have greatly affected my life, I can’t go to work freely”, explains this 45-year-old businessman and believes that it is necessary “to give the president time to keep his promises”.
It is the third time since the beginning of July that the opposition has organized such action days. Police were heavily criticized for their crackdown, including live ammunition, following the July 12 mobilization.
The NGO Human Rights Watch had called on the Kenyan authorities to protect citizens’ right to demonstrate peacefully.
Thirteen Western countries, including the United States and Britain, expressed in a joint statement on Tuesday their concern over the “high levels of violence” during the recent demonstrations and called on the various parties to “peacefully resolve their differences”.
According to an association of private sector organizations (Kepsa), each day of mobilization causes the country’s economy to lose the equivalent of 3 billion shillings (about 19 million euros).