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Governor Nyong'o leads Kisumu protest amid bonfires, closed businesses

 Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong'o addresses resident during the Azimio antigovernment demos on March 27,2023. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong'o on Monday led hundreds of antigovernment protestors in Kisumu.

The residents took to the streets to protest against the high cost of living in a second week of Azimio la Umoja calls.

Nyong'o and his Deputy Mathews Owili, who are keen to protect investments in the lakeside city, are leading the protests to ensure that it does not spiral into more chaos.

This comes even as scenes of unrest hit several parts of Kisumu, Siaya and Migori counties.

The scenes left businesses closed for fear of looters as tensions flared and groups of protestors gathered at various places.

 Kisumu Residents take to the streets during the Azimio antigovernment protests on March 27, 2023. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

In Kisumu, protestors defied the heavy police presence around the town and lit bonfires in Kondele, Kisumu Main bus park, Kibuye and Jua Kali areas.

The rioters barricaded several roads to the city's CBD using boulders and stones.

The Nyong'o-led group convened in Kondele before beginning to match towards Nyamasaria.

 Protestors light bonfires along the Kisumu-Bondo highway during the Azimio la Umoja antigovernment demos. [Isaiah Gwengi, Standard]

By 11 am, it was still unclear whether the protestors would attempt to force their way into the CBD.

A spot check by The Standard across the city established that law enforcement has been deployed in all the major entry points to Kisumu's CBD.

Anti-riot police officers lobbed teargas at a group of protesters, who lit bonfires at the Kisumu Boys Roundabout, chanting anti-government songs.

The protestors claimed that the high cost of living had pushed them to the streets and vowed to continue piling pressure on the government until the problem is resolved.

 Lit bonfires along the Kisumu-Bondo highway. [Isaiah Gwengi, Standard]

Kevin Otieno, a protestor, said he hoped for peaceful protests but claimed that the heavy police presence was stirring unnecessary tensions.

"We want to match peacefully as enshrined in the constitution but police officers have already started lobbying teargas canisters. Our goal is to match up to State Lodge," he said.

Learning has been paralyzed in several schools across the region as parents who feared the safety of their learners opted to keep their children at home.

At Kondele and Migosi primary schools, pupils did not report to school today for fear of being caught up in the protests.

Kuppet executive secretary for the Kisumu branch, Mr Zablon Awange, told The Standard that several head teachers and principals in the region had told parents to stay with their children at home over safety fears.

 Some of the youths who participated in the Azimio antigovernment protests in Kisumu. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

He described the developments as unfortunate, adding that learning hours were being lost due to the political environment.

"We are worried as education stakeholders about the impact of the demonstrations. Education stands to lose much if no tangible solution is sought on the impasse," said Awange.

In Migori, protestors blocked the Migori-Isebania highway, a key road linking Kenya to Tanzania as they protested the high cost of living.

The protestors used boulders and stones to barricade the road at Migori bridge as they chanted anti-government slogans. Police stood at a distance and watched without engaging the protestors.

In Bondo and Siaya, business activities remained paralyzed as residents began grouping to start protests against the high cost of living. In Kisii, there was a discomforting calm as heavily armed anti-riot police officers patrolled the streets. By 11.30 am, no protests had been reported in the town.

Reporting by Olivia Odhiambo, Caleb Kingwara and Isaiah Gwengi

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