Kenya police ban cost-of-living protest by opposition

Men react to police officers at a roadblock during a protest after Kenya opposition leader Raila Odinga called for nationwide 10-day-long mass protests against the "illegitimate government" of President William Ruto in Kisumu on March 10, 2023. PHOTO | AFP

Summary

  • Raila Odinga, leader of the Azimio la Umoja party, had called for Monday's demonstration in Nairobi over soaring inflation¬†

Nairobi. Kenya's police on Sunday banned the opposition from holding a protest over inflation, saying requests for the demonstrations were filed too late, but organisers vowed to go ahead with the rallies.

Raila Odinga, leader of the Azimio la Umoja party, had called for Monday's demonstration in Nairobi over soaring inflation, which in February reached 9.2 percent year-on-year in the East African nation. 

Odinga also claims that last year's tight presidential election was "stolen" from him, denouncing the government of President William Ruto as "illegitimate".

Nairobi police chief Adamson Bungei said on Sunday that police received requests to hold two demonstrations only late on Saturday and early on Sunday, when normally three days' notice is required for public rallies.

"For public safety, neither has been granted," he said at a press conference in the capital. 

Organisers had planned to march near the State House, the presidential palace.

"I want to underline some areas such as State House where we have heard people planning to invade or visit is covered by the laws of Kenya that it is a restricted area for unauthorised persons," Bungei said.

But Odinga vowed that the gathering would go ahead.

"I want Kenyans to come out in large numbers and show the displeasure of what is happening in our country," he told his supporters Sunday.

Ruto for his part warned that "you are not going to threaten us with ultimatums and chaos and impunity."

"We will not allow that," he said, calling on Odinga to act in a "legal and constitutional manner."

According to official results from the August presidential vote, Odinga lost to Ruto by around 233,000 votes, one of the closest margins in the country's history.

Odinga, who was running for the fifth time to lead the country, rejected the results, calling them fraudulent.

The Supreme Court has dismissed his appeals, with its judges giving a unanimous judgement in favour of Ruto, finding there was no evidence for Odinga's accusations.