The third anti-government protests called by the opposition outfit Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition have kicked off today.
“Tuesday, the 2nd of May, we resume the protests!” Azimio leader Raila Odinga had announced last week, even as the parliamentary-led bipartisan talks by both the Azimio and the Kenya Kwanza government side kicked off.
During the Monday Labor Day celebrations , Raila had issued a statement confirming that the protests will kick off from 6am.
Tuesday morning has seen a heavy police presence in the Nairobi Central Business District with anti-riot police patrolling the streets. More officers were deployed in the estates, especially Kibra and Mathare where violent confrontations have been witnessed during the previous protests
“The Constitution of Kenya, which in Article 37 provides that, “Every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present public petitions to public authorities” has not been suspended”, the Azimio leader’s statement had read.
The opposition lambasted the police for their heavy presence in the city streets, insisting that their protests are peaceful.
“Police cannot decide in advance that there shall be violence, and then proceed to ban political activities that are protected by the constitution”, Raila said in the Labour Day statement .
Meanwhile, pockets of lawlessness have been witnessed in other parts of the city. Irate protesters are said to have burned down a minibus plying the Ngong-Nairobi route at Posta along Ngong Road. Police have moved in to help move the burnt down minibus from the road.
ODM party Secretary General Senator Edwin Sifuna has meanwhile decried plans to paint the opposition protests as violent, and urged supporters to be peaceful.
” The state in a well orchestrated spate of violence is trying to paint our Tuesday protests as anything but peaceful. We know these tricks. We urge our supporters not to fall for these shameful tactics meant to incite Nairobians against each other and maintain peace,” Sifuna posted on his Twitter page.
In the lakeside city of Kisumu, businesses and transportation have been paralyzed as demonstrators barricaded roads, and lit bonfires.
Today’s protests are the third ones called by the Azimio la Umoja , with the previous two seeing violent confrontations between irate protestors and security officers battling in major cities of Nairobi and Kisumu.
Massive cases of looting, injuries and deaths have been reported during the previous protests, as the opposition and their supporters agitate for the lowering of the cost of basic commodities, among other demands .
This, as the bipartisan talks are underway to address the issues raised by the opposition, among them the re-constitution of the IEBC select panel and the opening of the servers containing the results of the 2022 General Elections.
However, Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo who is leading the Azimio side of the bipartisan talks said he is not mandated to call off the protests even as the talks get underway.
“As a joint bipartisan team we have never been mandated to discuss anything about demonstrations. It is not in our place to call on or call off protests,” Otiende stated.