Anti-government protests resume in Odinga, Kenya

Kenya’s opposition parties plan to resume anti-government protests on May 2, nearly three weeks after rallies were suspended to talk to authorities.

“We will resume rallies from May 2 and the protests will be limited to Nairobi,” opposition veteran Raila Odinga spokesman Dennis Onyango, who has organized several anti-living rallies, told AFP in the Kenyan capital. Onyango did not elaborate on the reasons for the renewed protests. Mr Odinga has been organizing biweekly Monday and Thursday protests since March 20 accusing President William Ruto of “stealing” the August presidential election and failing to contain soaring prices.

This rally was banned by the police. Raila Odinga, 78, several times unsuccessful presidential candidate, had suspended the rallies in early April to participate in a dialogue with the government. According to the Kenyan president, who had called on the population to respect the rule of law, a bipartisan parliamentary committee was to explore the possibility of revising the electoral code. However, the head of state ruled out any alliance with his rival. Mr. Odinga welcomed the “olive branch” presented by Mr. Ruto, but warned that protests could resume if there was no progress.

Three people, including a police officer, died during the protests, which were also marked by looting and vandalism. The demonstrators were killed by police fire in Kisumu, western Kenya, an opposition stronghold, according to initial reports. The institution responsible for overseeing law enforcement announced an investigation. According to the Media Council of Kenya, which defends the rights of the press in this East African country, “25 cases of attacks on local and foreign journalists” working for “state and non-state actors” were recorded during the demonstrations.

Calls for calm Many Kenyans are struggling to feed themselves on a daily basis, faced with inflation (9.2% year-on-year in February, with 13.3% for food prices alone), the depreciation of the Kenyan shilling and an unprecedented drought in some parts of the country. The international community and religious leaders had called for calm, fearing that the situation could degenerate into ethnic violence such as that seen after the 2007-08 elections, which left more than 1,100 people dead. Odinga, who was running for the fifth time for the highest office, is still contesting the results of the August 9, 2022, presidential election, despite the Supreme Court’s rejection of his appeal.

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