Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Kenya: Odinga's Protest Call Unheeded on Final Day

Nairobi — A call by Azimio La Umoja leader Raila Odinga for protests to continue on day three Friday appears to have been unheeded as Kenyans went about their business in most parts of the country.

In Nairobi, most shops re-opened business and the public transport system was back to normal as was the case in Nakuru, Mombasa and Kisii which were most affected since Wednesday.

Police patrols were however, visible on various streets, accompanied by National Youth Service (NYS) personnel.

In the lakeside city of Kisumu, business was slowly getting back to normalcy as some of the shops opened in town although disturbances were visible at Nyamasaria and Kondele areas where groups of youth converged. Police watched from a distance.

“I am urging my supporters to go on with the protests because Friday is the grand finale,” Odinga declared Thursday, when he spoke to NTV, explaining his absence from the protests since Wednesday.

“I am nursing a terrible flu but I am getting better,” he said in the interview explaining his conspicuous absence from the three-day anti-government protests he mobilized.

At least 9 people have been killed and more than 300 arrested since Wednesday when the protests started.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki said the suspects-many of them in Nairobi- have been charged with various offences, including unlawful assembly and destruction of property.

Kindiki says the government has managed to suppress the protests and urged the public to go on with their businesses.

“The public is hereby informed that the wave of hooliganism, disruption of order and lawlessness that began on Wednesday has been fully contained and the country has returned to normalcy,” he said in a statement.

But Odinga has vowed the protests will proceed Friday and urged his supporters to turn up, saying he must not be there for protests to proceed.

“The protests are for all Kenyans, it is not about me or Azimio leaders so even if we are not present they proceed,” he said.

Kenyans largely ignored a call by the opposition to boost anti-government protests on Thursday, although isolated clashes flared in the capital between police and stone-throwing demonstrators.

Police fired tear gas and live rounds at protesters in Nairobi’s Kibera slum, an opposition stronghold, but no violence was reported elsewhere in contrast to earlier demonstrations.

Veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga called for three days of demonstrations this week, with Wednesday’s protests claiming six lives according to Amnesty International’s Kenya chapter, which said it had cross-checked the toll with victims’ families.

Since March, 20 people have died in the demonstrations, according to figures released by the government and hospitals, and the unrest has alarmed Kenyans and the international community alike.