[Photo courtesy of Pulse Kenya]
By Sophie Kinya.
At least four people have died on the first day of three days of nationwide demonstrations organized by the Azimio coalition, while numerous others have been hurt and are in danger of losing their lives in different regions of the country. Speaking to the press, the medical superintendent of Nakuru Level Five Hospital, Dr. James Waweru Munene, revealed that one person had been shot and killed in Nakuru County while seven others were receiving medical attention there for their wounds. Two people in Nairobi County and one more in Makueni County have also been confirmed dead.
The protests started at around midday in Kibera and Mathare areas where the people protesting dared the police to intervene. This did not turn out very well for them especially in Mathare because police in civilian clothes showed up and opened fire which resulted in a 13-year old boy being shot. He was later taken to the hospital and his current health status is unknown.
Peace was also disrupted in Migori, Kisumu and Siaya Counties where about thirty-eight protesters were injured and majority of them left with gunshot wounds.
The Interior Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Kithure Kindiki released a statement that said that more than 300 people have been arrested across the country. They will be charged with various crimes including looting, arson, malicious damage of property, robbery with violence, assaulting law enforcement police among other crimes.
Aside from the 300 protesters arrested, it is believed that at least nine Azimio leaders have been arrested so far due to the protests. Among them are Kilifi South MP Ken Chonga, Kilifi County Speaker Teddy Mwambire, and Embakasi East MP Babu Owino.
The protests, set in motion by the Azimio Coalition, are aimed to pressure the Kenya Kwanza government to lower the cost of living and slash taxes. Speaking exclusively to the Nation media group, Azimio leader Raila Odinga maintained that the demonstrations would go on as planned until the government paid attention to them. He also thanked his supporters for coming out on the streets and asked them to end the demonstrations at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday.
A joint commentary by Editors’ of Kenya’s leading media houses asked the government to give dialogue a chance one more time so as to stop the protests. Speaking on behalf of the editors, Journalist Dan Mwangi advised the people in question to first address the underlying reasons of the perpetual conflict. “To do this you must hold dialogues and they must contain the following core principles; the constitutional freedom of expression cannot be curtailed under any circumstances even under the guise of maintaining law and order or protecting the government in power, those set out to exercise their constitutional right must do so under the confines of the law. When protesters destroy property, cause chaos, disturb the peace and limit the movement of other people, they must face the wrath of the law.” he said.
The journalist also went on to remind the police and security agents of their mandate, which is to serve the people of Kenya rather than the political need of any individual.
“Those in the government must be cautioned against the arrogance of power and the presumption that they are in office eternally and that they will never be called to account. Those on the other side must respect that there is a government in place, elected on a platform by which it must be given time and space to deliver on or fail and face the wrath of voters.
At the end of the day we all live in one nation sailing on the same boat. If it sinks, we will all go down with it. No one will be spared.” Dan Mwangi said as he finished his commentary.