Thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, on Monday despite the government’s announcement that protests illegal.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga joined the protesters on the western side of the capital, where his convoy drew thousands of supporters, addressing them at various stops calling for electoral justice and lower food prices.
Police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse their supporters. Police Chief Japheth Comey insists the protests are illegal but Odinga says Kenyans have a right to demonstrate.
Odinga and his party, Azimio la Umoja – One Kenya Coalition, are leading protests against the rising cost of living and calling for the resignation of President William Ruto saying he was not properly elected in last year’s elections.
More than a dozen civil society groups, in a joint statement, expressed concern about the police declaring Monday’s protests illegal and urged the authorities to uphold people’s constitutional right to peaceful protest.
Ruto over the weekend urged Odinga to confront him directly and “stop terrorizing the country”.
Odinga said last week that protests would be held twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.
Odinga’s plan at last week’s protests was to march to the president’s offices at the presidential residence, but police have erected barricades to block public access and motorists have been directed to alternate routes.
Roto is currently out of the country Visit Germany.
Vice President Regati Gashagwa shared pictures of himself in his office early Monday morning and urged Kenyans to come to work.
Nairobi’s central business district remained quiet, but most businesses were closed Monday morning due to uncertainty about the demonstrations and whether there was violence.
There were reports of some acts of violence against Odinga and his supporters. Some people raided a farm on the outskirts of the capital owned by the family of former President Uhuru Kenyatta, felling trees and transporting sheep, according to local media reports. Support former President Odinga in the 2022 elections.
A gas cylinder manufacturing business in Odinga near the central business district was stoned.
There was a heavy police presence inside the capital and surrounding neighborhoods on Monday. Police dispersed crowds that had gathered in Kibera and Mathare, two poor areas of Nairobi.
Kibera resident Emily Atino told the Associated Press that she will continue to protest until “the price of cooking flour is lowered.” Another protester, Mario Omari, said the protests would continue until Ruto resigned from office.
Local media have been warned not to broadcast Monday’s protests. The Kenya Communications Authority said broadcasts of last week’s demonstrations had caused panic, incited the public and threatened the peace.
However, the Supreme Court ruled the authority’s notice unconstitutional and upheld media freedom in response to a petition by a civil society group, the Journalists Syndicate and the Law Society.
in 2018, Major television stations in Kenya The broadcast was suspended for a week by the regulator after Odinga’s “mock” oath was broadcast at a ceremony where he claimed to be the people’s president. Odinga rejected the results of the 2017 elections and organized anti-government protests.
Last week, the police threatened to take action against those pictured throwing stones at officers.
They posted pictures of people they said were wanted for crimes during the protests but were called out by local media for using old photos and other photos taken during the Burundi protests.