Human rights lobby group has condemned the excessive use of force by police on Azimio supporters during anti-government protests in parts of the country on Monday.
Residents in regions perceived to be Azimio leader Raila Odinga’s political strongholds took to the streets to protest the high cost of living.
The peaceful protests however turned chaotic after police lobbed teargas canisters at the crowds which then resorted to the destruction of property and hurled stones at the officers.
The Independent Legal Medical Legal Unit (IMLU) accused the police of clamping down on the rights of Kenyans to picket.
“Article 37 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides for the freedom of citizens to demonstrate, picket and present petitions to public authorities peacefully and unarmed. The right can only be limited by law to the extent that the limitation is reasonable and justifiable,” stated IMLU in a statement.
The statement came shortly after political leaders and activists accused Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki of using the police to suppress the anti-government protests.
“Police have turned what was peaceful maandamano into an ugly confrontation. They have arrested the Minority Leaders of both Houses and a number of other leaders. This is totally uncalled for. We shall not relent," said ODM Secretary General and Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna.
Activist Boniface Mwangi said, “…It’s very clear so far that’s it’s the police who are behaving violently. They should obey the law, and let the people demonstrate in peace, deliver their petition at State House and go home. What are you afraid of? SH (State House) is public property.”
A spot-check by The Standard revealed that protesters in Nyanza heeded Raila's call to come out in large numbers and participate in what has become mass action Monday.
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In Kisumu, most businesses closed and very few vehicles were seen at the bus park and on the roads.
Residents were seen on the streets riding motorbikes as some walked chanting and singing.
Protesters banged cooking pans to decry the high cost of living. Others lit bonfires using tyres on major roads.
In Siaya county, the demonstrations were led by some local leaders.
Protesters carried placards and twigs while chanting about the high cost of living.
In Migori, demonstrators barricaded major roads with stones and logs. Police were forced to lob teargas canisters to disperse the crowd.
Police in Kisii kept vigil as the residents remained calm despite the mass action call.
Raila maintained that the opposition would continue to push President William Ruto's government to lower the cost of basic commodities saying majority of Kenyans are suffering.
Addressing supporters in Kamkunji, Nairobi, after police diverted his convoy that was headed to the Central Business District, the Azimio leader said the anti-government protests will be held every Monday.
The Opposition leader also alleged that the 2022 General Election was rigged and the IEBC servers were manipulated.
“They must open the IEBC servers; Kenyans want to know the truth. They have messed the economy of Kenya by increasing taxes and prices of basic commodities. Punda amechoka (the donkey is tired),” Raila said while addressing supporters who were chanting unga, unga, unga (flour).
The Azimio leaders convoy made several stops including in Eastleigh where they maintained that their victory was stolen.
Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka called for the immediate and unconditional release of a section of Azimio leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Stewart Madzayo and his National Assembly counterpart Opiyo Wandayi, who were being held at the DCI headquarters along Kiambu Road.
Raila was accompanied by Suna East MP Junet Mohammed, former Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni and Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga among other leaders.