Azimio parades bodies of victims of police killings, wants Koome out

Azimio la Umoja leaders led by Raila Odinga at a Requiem mass of victims of police Brutality in Bondo Siaya County on August 11, 2023. [Emmanuel Wanson, Standard]

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition yesterday paraded five bodies of some of the victims of the mass anti-government protests as they emboldened their defiance against the government, and vowed to ensure that they find justice for the victims.

This comes as the coalition’s top brass hinted that the plan to sue at the International Criminal Court (ICC) senior government officials who allegedly oversaw the killings of innocent civilians, is at an advanced stage.

The coalition intensified their criticisms against the Kenya Kwanza administration, called for the resignation of Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome and rallied the international community to side with them over the killing of protestors.

They ruled out discussing police brutality in the by-partisan talks and claimed the matter will be handled separately while pushing for their resolve to sue senior government officials over the deaths.

On the flip side, they also pushed hardline positions against the government and claimed that the political game of chess to push President William Ruto’s administration into submission is still on course. This includes the prospects of adopting new styles of protests and civil disobedience to push Kenya Kwanza into submission.

They said they will not relent in their push to find justice to Kenyans who lost their lives to police brutality as well as answers to the questions they posed to Kenya Kwanza through the protests.

In emotive speeches delivered in Bondo during an interdenominational prayer meeting for victims of the protests, Azimio principals poked holes in the behaviour of key government officials, including President Ruto. They claimed the president has chosen the path of impunity and is celebrating what they described as evil.

The Azimio top brass criticised the international community for allegedly remaining mum in the wake of the killings and described the killing of their supporters as profiling of a particular community.

Emotions ran high as the politicians, residents and families of some of the victims.

“Today is really a sad day for the entire nation. We are burying people who died a very brutal death at the hands of an uncaring regime,” said Azimio leader Raila Odinga.

Raila described the developments as unacceptable and launched scathing attacks against Ruto’s regime.

“We have a Constitution that is not respected by those in power and that is why they give orders of shoot and kill,” said Raila.

It appears not even the ongoing talks with Kenya Kwanza to broker a political truce will stop their journey to ensure that those involved in the killings are brought to book.

He claimed the National Police Service has slid back into the era of dictatorship and have thrown the Constitution out of the window. Raila challenged the international community to take a stand on the killings, arguing that they amount to profiling of a single community.

“We are not happy they (international community) are silent, we want them to come out strong on this issue. This is unacceptable. We want the international community to take note, and stand with Kenyans,” said Raila.

The ODM chief challenged ICC to deliver justice to Kenyans, even as he took a swipe at ICC prosecutor Karim Khan for allegedly dining with the country’s oppressors.

“ICC must remain true to his mandate. To protect innocent people and their rights all over the world,” said Raila.

“Ruto is bragging that he will remain tough on our people, bragging that police did well protecting wealth,” he added.

According to the Raila, they will even consider other options for protests.

“Next time, we will ask people to stay in their homes, stop anyone coming out so that we see what happens. We have lots of ways of killing a cat,” he said.

Raila’s comments come at a time when the coalition has intensified its efforts to collect evidence as part of their efforts to build a case against government officials they believe orchestrated the killing of innocent protestors.

Among the leaders the coalition is targeting is the IG whom they claim oversaw the brutal response of police officers.

The Azimio leader was accompanied by several leaders including Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, Roots Party leader George Wajackoya and DAP-K party leader Eugene Wamalwa, among others.

Kalonzo called for the resignation of Koome and claimed he is responsible for the death of civilians during the protests.

“Koome must resign but this is also not enough,” said Kalonzo.

He claimed that police officers also targeted Raila and faulted the police for not conducting any investigations or making any arrests.

“We shall not deal with this matter of police brutality in the dialogue team. This is a big issue. It will be dealt with separately,” he said.

 According to Karua, President Ruto is also responsible for the killings of protestors.

“The president will answer for the death of innocent of Kenyans. Police are only allowed to use teargas during demos not live bullets. The buck stops with Ruto and he has owned up when he congratulated the police,” said Karua.