Kenya tragedy forecast to exacerbate


Kenyans protest. File photo by AFP

from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
Kenya Bureau
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – THE tragedy in Kenya, where demonstrations have led to recent loss of lives, is feared to deepen amid another round of anti-government protests this week.

Police have again outlawed the demonstrations, and the opposition insists they will proceed, paving way for what could be another round of running street battles.

“We are here, first and foremost, to confirm that the peaceful protests planned for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday this week are on as earlier declared by our leadership,” the opposition Azimio la Umoja–One Kenya Coalition Party stated.

Last week, six people were reportedly killed mainly in the capital Nairobi.

“The National Police Force takes cognizance of the information circulating, via the media, of planned demonstrations in various parts of the country from Wednesday July 19-21,” said Japhet Koome, Inspector-General of Police.

He said contrary to the legal requirements, no organizers or planners of the purported demonstrations had informed the National Police Service (NPS) of such gatherings, thus rendering them illegal and unprotected.

“While Article 37 of the Constitution gives the right to assemble, demonstrate and picket, lessons from recent similar demonstrations that left trails of destruction, injuries and loss of lives clearly indicate that such demonstrations are nothing but a threat to national security,” Koome warned.

“In line with the NPS mandate to maintain law and order, protect life and property and preserve peace, we wish to inform the public that any demonstrations that would be held in any part of Kenya on Wednesday, July 19, will be dealt with promptly in accordance with the law.”

The police chief said officers had during the crisis “continued patriotism, selfless and dedicated service to our country.”

However, human rights groups accuse law enforcers of heavy-handedness.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) this week said political leaders should stop the labelling of protesters as terrorists and respect the human rights to assembly and peaceful protest.

“Kenyan authorities are obligated under Kenyan and international human rights law to protect citizens’ right to freely assemble and to peacefully protest,” said Otsieno Namwaya, senior Africa researcher at HRW.

“Police should adhere to the principles of necessity and proportionality in response to any violence during the demonstrations.”

President William Ruto recently was quoted as saying, “We are not going to allow people to use certain provisions of the constitution to cause mayhem and anarchy.”

This was seen as reference to the Azimio la Umoja, led by his rival, Raila Odinga, who lost polls last year and disputed the result.

Odinga said, “Those killed and arrested by Ruto are martyrs and political prisoners.”

“As we soldier on, we condole with the families of all those killed by Ruto and celebrate them as martyrs of our liberation,” Odinga added.

Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, is battling economic challenges. – CAJ News

The political problems are among the worst since hundreds were killed during a disputed poll in 2007/08, which Odinga lost.

– CAJ News







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