After a day of clashes between law enforcement and opposition supporters in Kenya on Monday, 238 people were arrested and 31 police officers were injured, police said on Tuesday (March 21). Opposition leader Raila Odinga had called on his supporters to demonstrate against inflation and the government. Police say 213 people have been arrested in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and 25 others in the opposition stronghold of the country's west.
The demonstration in the capital had been banned on Sunday by the authorities due to the non-respect of the deadline for filing the request for authorization. "We want to remind people that no one is above the law," police said, denouncing "illegal protests." "What organizers presented as a peaceful protest turned into a violent crime scene with protesters ... throwing rocks at riot police," police added, saying the protesters' sole purpose was "to invade State House", the presidential palace.
On Monday, a student was killed by police in Maseno in the west of the country. The body overseeing law enforcement on Tuesday ordered an investigation into the death, as well as the case of a "seriously injured" man in Nairobi, saying the police had acted "with restraint". Mr Odinga told a press conference he was "horrified and disgusted" by the police brutality, calling for protests on Mondays and Thursdays starting next week.
"We will not give in until this illegitimate regime understands that the people are suffering," he said. According to him, his car and that of another member of his party had been shot at, without it being possible to independently verify this information. According to the police, the officers, running out of tear gas, "fired live ammunition" at the demonstrators who had thrown stones at them and damaged a police station. According to her, some 31 members of the security forces were injured. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms the unwarranted violence against our officers in the line of duty," the statement said.
“Every Monday there will be a strike; the war has begun"
Clashes quickly erupted on Monday between protesters, who threw stones, and security forces, who used tear gas and water cannons – including on Mr. Odinga's convoy – in some neighborhoods of the capital. and in the west of the country. At least two parliamentarians from the party of the veteran opposition candidate, several times presidential candidate, were also arrested.
This is the first major unrest since the coming to power of William Ruto, who won a very close presidential election in August, the result disputed by his unfortunate rival Odinga who continues to claim that it was "stolen from him". and that the Ruto government is "illegitimate". Mr. Odinga has called on his supporters for weekly protests. “Every Monday there will be a strike, there will be a demonstration. The war has started, it will not end until Kenyans get their rights,” said 78-year-old Odinga.
In addition to the rise in prices - which reached 9.2% in February year on year in the East African country - Kenyans are suffering from the sharp fall in the shilling against the US dollar and the record drought which plunged millions of people into starvation. Many businesses in Nairobi were closed on Monday before the protests, and some companies had asked their employees to favor teleworking.
Vice President Rigathi Gachagua on Monday had asked "organizers to reflect" and "to put an end to the chaos so that those who have not opened their businesses and stores do so this afternoon". The protests have already caused the loss of 2 billion shillings (about 14 million euros), he said. The head of state also spoke out this weekend against his opponent's calls to demonstrate.
"You are not going to threaten us with ultimatums, chaos and impunity. We will not allow it,” said William Ruto, 56, asking Raila Odinga to act using “legal and constitutional” means. The appeal brought after the August 9 presidential election by Raila Odinga, who was running for the fifth time at the head of the country and complained of fraud, was rejected by the Supreme Court.