Kenyan police ban anti-government protests as death toll rises

Kenyan police ban anti-government protests as death toll rises

Kenya's Inspector General of Police says planned protests are unlawful, government has ordered schools to remain closed

By Andrew Wasike

NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) - Kenyan police decided late Tuesday to declare three days of anti-government protests scheduled for this week illegal

The protests, organized by opposition leader Raila Odinga, were set to take place Wednesday to Friday.

Police Inspector General Japhet Koome made the announcement, citing the opposition's failure to inform the police about the planned events, rendering the demonstrations unlawful.

"Contrary to the legal requirements, no organizers/planners of the purported demonstrations have notified the police of such gatherings," Koome said.

"Lessons from recent similar demonstrations that left trails of destruction of property, injuries and loss of lives clearly indicate that such demonstrations
are nothing but a threat to national security," he added.

The Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition Party led by Odinga had announced the protests last Friday, intending to address concerns over the skyrocketing cost of living and newly imposed taxes on petroleum products.

Odinga justified extending the demonstrations to Thursday and Friday, saying it was in response to widespread public demand and citizens' dissatisfaction.

However, the protests have already claimed over a dozen lives according to an official police tally, with reports of violence and clashes between demonstrators and security forces.

In response to the anticipated anti-government protests, the Kenyan government has taken precautionary measures by ordering the closure of all-day schools in Nairobi and Mombasa.

The Kenya Railways Corporation also announced the suspension of train services in Nairobi on Wednesday due to the protests.

Concerns over the safety of protesters and the escalating death toll have prompted the United Nations Human Rights Office to call on the Kenyan police to protect demonstrators and urged anti-riot police officers to apply the law equally and ensure the safety of all citizens.

Jeremy Laurence, spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office, expressed deep concern over the incidents of violence during recent protests, revealing that reports indicate up to 23 people were killed and dozens injured in demonstrations over the past week.

The office emphasized the need for a peaceful resolution and called for dialogue between the government and the opposition to address the underlying grievances.

In response to the ongoing protests, President William Ruto has declared a stance of zero tolerance for the upcoming anti-government demonstrations.

Challenging Odinga, he emphasized the need for law and order, saying that the protests were causing disruptions and threatening the stability of the nation.

The police's prohibition of the protests raises questions about the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in Kenya.

Human rights organizations and activists have criticized the decision, calling for respect for citizens' constitutional rights and urging the government to engage in constructive dialogue to address the concerns raised by the demonstrators.

As the nation awaits the scheduled protests on Wednesday, tensions remain high.

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