Akorino preacher braves teargas in Nairobi streets as she prays for peace

Akorino preacher, Susan Wanjiru said she was on a mission to pray for peace and the demonstrators so that no one is injured during the mass action. [Pkemoi Ng'enoh, Standard]

For the better part of Monday, the air around Nairobi's city centre has been filled with the choking smell of teargas to disperse protesters.

While police were engaging protestors in running battles, Susan Wanjiru seemed to be the only one not bothered as she cut through the thick teargas lobbed by anti-riot police.

Wanjiru was dressed in a flowing white dress with a touch of red, and similar headgear. In one of her hands, she held a huge bible and something resembling a wooden cross.

Praying for peace

"I am an Akorino preacher based in Umoja estate and I'm not here to demonstrate, I'm praying for peace in the country so that no life can be lost," she told The Standard.

"I arrived in the city centre very early and started the prayers but I don't support any political side, what we are calling for at the moment is peace among ourselves because the leader people are fighting for are rich and not starving," she added.

Wanjiru said her mission included stopping at some government buildings to pray so that no one is injured during the running battles.

The anti-government protests were called by Azimio leader Raila Odinga, challenging President William Ruto administration to lower the cost of living among other issues.

Some religious leaders have also called for peace and dialogue among the top leaders so that Kenya's economy is not brought to its knees.

Bishop Samuel Njiriri, the Chairman Federation of Evangelical and Indigenous Christian Churches of Kenya (FEICCK) while cautioning against protests called for peace. "The demonstrations are not good for the country at the moment, we are against it because those who will participate are not genuine others are out to loot," Njiriri said.

"Unlike other countries, demonstrations in Kenya have never been peaceful, that is why we are not for it," he added.

Ruto asked to reach out to Raila

On Sunday, Catholic bishops urged President William Ruto to reach out to opposition leader Raila Odinga for the sake of the country's peace. The bishops said the truce between the two leaders will avert attempts to plunge Kenya into violence that will worsen the economic situation.

The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) opposed Raila's call for mass action and urged the former premier to suspend demonstrations. They upheld that while the Constitution provides for rallies and picketing, freedom does not allow forceful takeover or destabilisation of a constitutional government.