Featured News

Kenya: Anti-riot police recalled after mass protests are called off

Hundreds of anti-riot police who had been mobilized ahead of Monday’s mass protests were Sunday ordered to stand down and go back to their stations.

This was after Azimio La Umoja Coalition called off a planned mass protest in the city on Monday, April 3.

President William Ruto had earlier on asked the leaders of the coalition who were planning the protests to call it off and give dialogue a chance.

Hundreds of security officials had been mobilized from some regions and police colleges in readiness for confrontations in the city.

The protests were called to denounce among others, the high cost of living.

But after the announcement by the leaders that the protests had been called off commanders were called and ordered to plan to retreat to their bases.

Few officers were left deployed on some roads in Nairobi especially those near State House where roadblocks were erected.

But by midnight Sunday, they were removed, officials said.

Security officials said this was a precaution for them to be sure.

Security officials said there were few incidents overnight on Sunday and they had peace after the announcement.

Up to ten people including a police officer have been killed and hundreds injured in the protests that were called two weeks ago. This happened in a confrontation between security agencies and the protesters.

The Azimio La Umoja One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga made the announcement of calling off the protests in a press address at his Capitol Hill office in Nairobi.

It came just hours after Ruto’s address in which he called on the opposition leader to do so and give way for a bipartisan parliamentary process in the recruitment of commissioners to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which is one of the issues the opposition had raised with Ruto’s administration. 

Odinga said the Azimio camp is ready for dialogue that will address the key issues they have raised.

According to the opposition leader, the decision to call off the protests came after wide consultations, including with religious leaders, among others. 

“William Ruto has issued what I regard as an important statement, we have met and listened to a lot of people, including religious leaders, and they have implored us to give dialogue a chance,” he said.

“We acknowledge the olive branch on dialogue,  this is a positive development.  We agree to a balanced parliamentary proceed co-chaired by both sides, this committee must be done immediately, including all arrests and prosecution related to demos.” 

Odinga said the Azimio camp is prepared to resume protests if “no meaningful outcome” is reached within a week.

“We emphasize that rights to assemble are anchored in our constitution, we reserve our rights to call for demos if there is no meaningful outcome. We will resume after one week,” he added.

Among the issues the Azimio camp wants addressed are electoral justice, high cost of living,  attacks on media, attacks on democracy as well as the alleged ‘buying’ of MPs.

On assembling the new IEBC team, the opposition has been accusing Ruto of reconstituting the electoral commission “without consulting other stakeholders and interested parties.

“Ruto had suggested that through the bipartisan parliamentary process, the IEBC selection panel and the future recruitment of its commissioners could yield “constitutionally and legally-binding proposals.”

“My suggestion is that this matter can be handled by parliament so that we can agree on what the issue is and we can adjust as agreed and as necessary,” Ruto, who was flanked by his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, said.

Noting that the protests over the last two weeks have led to the killing three people, including a police officer, and injuring at least 400 others, Ruto said: “I urge my brother Raila Odinga to call off the demonstrations and to give this bipartisan approach a chance to take this country forward.”

The Star

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *