Halt Kenya's gradual descent to anarchy

A protester sits by fire that was set alight by protesters allied to Azimio in protesting for cost living at Makina in Kibra, Nairobi on March 27, 2023. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

True to its word, the opposition staged its second protest against the high cost of living Monday this week. The demo turned chaotic just like the first one, and tomorrow's demonstration could also go the same way unless restraint is exercised.

There were running battles between police officers stationed at strategic places to stop demonstrators from getting into the heart of the city.

Teargas and copious amounts of missiles were used. As would be expected, both protestors sustained injuries even as one demonstrator was reportedly shot dead by the police in Kisumu, which goes to show how dangerously the country is tottering on the brink of anarchy.

Demonstrations are provided for in the constitution as long as organisers are peaceful and follow laid down procedures. Although the protests called by the opposition have been chaotic, it is not easy to pinpoint those responsible for the chaos because while the government blames it on the opposition, the latter claims the government infiltrated its peaceful demos and planted goons to cause mayhem. What is not in doubt, however, is that our country is tottering on the brink of anarchy. This madness must stop before the monster we are feeding becomes too big for us to control.

Notably, Monday's demonstrations took an ugly turn after goons invaded the Kenyattas' Northland farm in Ruiru, stole prized sheep, cut down eucalyptus trees and later on set a section of the farm on fire. Other goons raided Raila Odinga's Spectre International firm in Industrial Area and caused a lot of damage.

Instructively, these raids took place only days after some politicians made inciteful statements that the Kenyatta land and Raila's property might be invaded if the opposition did not halt its demonstrations. The raids appeared well choreographed considering that they came on the same day and almost simultaneously. Several questions immediately come to mind; Who was behind these raids? Where were police officers as the attacks took place? Didn't the police get wind of the invasions?

Some top-ranking government officials have claimed that former President Uhuru Kenyatta is funding the opposition's protests but have adduced no evidence. However, that does not justify an attack on his family's property by goons.

Following the events of Monday, every Kenyan should be worried. If Uhuru's property can be pillaged, what of ordinary Kenyans' property? Such incidents can easily deteriorate into full-scale lawlessness. We must stop tempting fate lest our country goes to the dogs. The scars of the 2007/2008 post-election violence have barely healed. We cannot afford to open them now.

While we call for dialogue between the chest-thumping political antagonists, we demand that those behind the attack on the Kenyatta land and other properties across the country be brought to book.

Politicians who have made inciteful statements should be investigated to establish whether they put their words into action or if their words inspired the attacks. Meanwhile, we urge the International Criminal Court to keep an eye on Kenya just in case we need to go in that direction.