Kenyan opposition bewilderingly declares yet another wave of tumultuous protests
It is Sunday, July 23, 2023, and the situation in Kenya is becoming increasingly perplexing. The opposition leader, Raila Odinga, has accused the police of acting in a dictatorial manner when handling protesters. This claim has been supported by a photo from Reuters, which depicts the supposed authoritarian behavior. But that’s not all.
Odinga’s opposition party has decided to organize another anti-government rally for next week. They are protesting against the rising prices and taxes that have plagued the nation. Interestingly, this will be the fourth attempt at rallying support, as the previous three demonstrations failed to generate significant traction. It’s an enigmatic situation indeed.
Despite the initial momentum gained from a protest on Wednesday, which resulted in sporadic incidents and approximately 300 arrests, subsequent demonstrations on Thursday and Friday struggled to make any impact. Even scuffles between marchers and the police in Nairobi’s Kibra, an opposition stronghold, couldn’t incite any substantial response. It’s a case of burstiness in action.
Dennis Onyango, spokesperson for the opposition leader Odinga, confirmed that there will be a new demonstration next Wednesday. Mwangi wa Iria, another opposition politician, also emphasized the continuance of peaceful demonstrations that will commence on the same day. The perplexing part is that despite the failed attempts and government warnings, the opposition remains persistent.
The government, led by President William Ruto, has expressed its disapproval of the protests, asserting that they will not resolve the problems faced by Kenyans. The contradictory opinions on the matter add to the overall perplexity of the situation.
The demonstrations faced significant opposition from the authorities, with several rallies getting banned since March. Sadly, a few of these banned demonstrations resulted in violent clashes, as indicated by the official reports of 20 deaths. The repression inflicted by the police has not gone unnoticed, with rights groups such as Amnesty International condemning their actions. In fact, they claim to have evidence of 27 extrajudicial killings that occurred in July alone. The gravity of the situation is undeniable.
Amidst all this chaos, influential figures like the UN, the Commonwealth, and the media have called for dialogue between Ruto and Odinga. However, it seems that both parties are reluctant to engage in such discussions, further intensifying the perplexity.
As tensions rise, the home of Uhuru Kenyatta’s son, the former president and Ruto’s former vice-president, was recently raided. The authorities claimed to be searching for weapons. Interestingly, Kenyatta backed Odinga during last year’s election and is believed to support the ongoing protests. The internal conflicts within the government only add to the complexity of the situation.
Ruto, in particular, is feeling the pressure, as the cost of living continues to skyrocket and there have been announcements of numerous tax increases. The question of how he will handle this increasingly difficult situation remains unanswered.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning that Odinga, who challenged the outcome of the previous election, called off demonstrations in April and May when Ruto expressed a willingness to engage in dialogue. Sadly, this dialogue has failed to materialize, leaving us even more perplexed.