Kenyan police arrest opposition figures amid protests
Kenyan police have used tear gas and detained at least three opposition leaders and several protesters in Nairobi on Monday for holding unauthorized demonstrations.
Hundreds of protesters clashed with riot police in Nairobi, calling on President William Ruto to resign in response to the rising cost of living and allegations that he was fraudulently elected. Protesters threw rocks at riot police outside the capital’s government offices, while tires were set on fire on the streets.
Police used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, preventing them from reaching most of the designated meeting points in the central business district, AP reported.
Senate minority leader Stewart Madzayo and members of parliament Opiyo Wandati and Amina Mnyazi were among those arrested, and will be released after posting bail, Nairobi police said.
Police Chief Adamson Bungei explained on Sunday that police had received requests to hold two demonstrations late Saturday and early Sunday, despite the fact that public rallies normally require three days’ notice. As a result, the requests were turned down “for public safety.”
Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki warned beforehand that anyone inciting public disorder or disturbing the peace would face prosecution.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga had insisted that the protests would go ahead as planned, with demonstrators marching to the State House, the president’s official residence. Odinga said Kenyan citizens have a constitutional right to demonstrate, and that the role of the police is to protect them after they issue a notification in advance, local media reported.
Odinga, who was making his fifth run for president, is contesting the August election in which he was defeated by Ruto by around 233,000 votes, one of the narrowest margins in the country’s history. His Supreme Court appeal to overturn Ruto’s victory was denied due to a lack of evidence.
As a result of the protests, several businesses were forced to close in the East African country, whose economy is suffering from rising prices and a sharp drop in the local shilling against the US dollar. A historic drought has also struck the country’s north, causing millions to go hungry.