Second day of protests in Nyanza sees arrests, property damage

Police officers on patrol in Kisii town during anti-government protests on July 19, 2023. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Business activities were paralysed for the second straight day in Nyanza as people took to the streets to protest against the high cost of living.

The day saw arrests, clashes between the police and protesters, and property damage. Some areas regained an uneasy calm, although many businesses stayed closed.

While the intensity of the protests seemed to lessen in a few towns, Kisumu, Migori, Rongo, Homa Bay, and Awendo looked like war zones as the chaos continued.

Protesters blocked roads, lit fires, and marched while shouting anti-government slogans. In Kisumu, one person was shot in Nyalenda, and many others were injured when police attempted to break up the protest. It was not clear whether the individual who had been shot survived.

By 4pm, the sound of gunshots and the choking smell of teargas filled the air. Much of the town was blocked off after protesters used large rocks to close off roads.

A supermarket in Kondele and a wholesale shop in Nyalenda were targeted by troublemakers posing as protesters. The exact value of the looted goods is unknown.

The protesters insisted that their aim is to free the country from oppressive government policies making life difficult.

Mercy Auko, a mother of two carrying a sufuria on her head, said she has been struggling to feed her children.

"We are fighting for a just cause. Many families cannot afford food and it is important that we make our voices heard," she said.

Unlike previous protests led by regional leaders, most elected officials were nowhere to be seen as they avoided police officers who were trying to arrest them.

Activist Boniface Agutu was not as fortunate. Men dressed in regular clothes, suspected to be police officers, bundled him inside an unmarked car and took him away.

His arrest caused an outcry among other activists, who protested and demanded his immediate release.

In Awendo, protesters blocked the highway using rocks and boulders, even planting bananas to halt all traffic.

In Migori, however, police officers managed to keep protesters away by setting up roadblocks. Despite this, the police ended up in skirmishes with protesters in Oruba estates, as they tried to stop them from reaching the main road.

In Homa Bay, a member of the County Assembly, Hamilton Odhiambo from Kagan Ward, was one of 26 people arrested by police officers as they tried to suppress protests in the area.

[Anne Atieno, Olivia Odhiambo, Isaiah Gwengi and James Omoro]

 

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