Azimio asks government to hold national conversation with young protesters

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi. [Evis Ogina, Standard]

Azimio la Umoja coalition has called for a national conversation between the government and the young people who went to the streets to protest against the Finance Bill 2024.

According to the Minority leader in the National Assembly Opiyo Wandayi, the government needs to take swift action and listen to the grievances of the young Kenyans and address them immediately.

Speaking to journalists in Kisumu, Wandayi argued that the protests by young people were happening organically and spontaneously across the country. He projects the protests to only intensify.

He said the time is rife for Kenyans to engage in a national conversation since the national dialogue that happened in Bomas had limited scope.

"It is going to be irresponsible for anyone in the office of responsibility in the government to take for granted this latest uprising by the young people. Anybody hoping this uprising will fizzle out is in for a shock or daydreaming," he said.

Wandayi argued that the Finance Bill 2024 was just a trigger but there were clear signs of pent-up emotions and frustrations that the young ones have lived with for too long.

He warned that any responsible government would not wish them away but move with speed and deal with the root cause of the problem.

While condemning the killing of 29-year-old Rex Masai during the protests on Thursday, he called for police protection for protesters during demonstrations.

Wandayi said already the Government was aware there were likely to be protests on Tuesday and should prepare to provide protection to protesters.

He urged the government and police to put in place mechanisms and measures to protect and secure protesters as the law dictates.

"We take great exception on blatant abuse of police power to stifle rights of peaceful Kenyans," he noted.

He said it was really unnecessary for Rex to have died in that manner because of police brutality.

He said the police had subjected the peaceful young protesters to all manner of torture including using water cannons, teargas, and police truncheon.

"This is something that must be condemned in the strongest terms possible. The blatant abuse by the police with those in charge to stifle civil rights with impunity."

Wandayi demanded that the police involved, the entire command structure, and the person who pulled the trigger be brought to book in the shortest time possible.

Meanwhile, the MP maintained that their position on Finance Bill 2024 remains unchanged and resolute.

Wandayi said currently the feeling of voters regardless of the political divide is the same with regard to the cost of living.

"Kenyans across the country are feeling the heat and burden of cost of living and they are saying they can no longer bear any burden of more taxes. Kenyans workers are suffocating because there is nothing to take home as all earnings are going to taxes and levies," he said.

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