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Foreign envoys call for restraint as anti-government protests continue in Kenya

Odinga facing pressure to back down

Nairobi, Kenya | Xinhua | Foreign envoys in Kenya have stepped up efforts toward bringing an end to the anti-government protests in the East African nation even as both the opposition and the authorities maintained hard-line positions.

The envoys drawn from Australia, Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Canada and the United States asked leaders to maintain restraint and work toward resolving the crisis. “We recognize the right to peaceful protests under the Kenyan constitution. However, all actors have to adhere to the principles of freedom, democracy and rule of law,” the envoys said in a joint statement on Wednesday evening.

Raila Odinga, who narrowly lost the 2022 presidential election to William Ruto, has declared the planned protests every Monday and Thursday will go on until the government addresses the high cost of living and electoral injustices.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki said on Wednesday evening that four people have been killed and 51 police officers and 85 civilians injured in the protests that started on March 21. Kindiki cautioned the public against participating in violent protests, noting the police would prevent them at “all costs”.

Citing violence, theft and destruction of property witnessed in the last two Mondays during the demonstrations, he said the country risks sliding into anarchy. “No more violent protests shall be allowed anywhere in Kenya. With or without notices, demonstrations and protests of any type which injure people, security officers, businesses and property shall be prevented at all costs,” he said in a statement.

Kindiki also condemned violence against police officers, asserting that protestors were the ones provoking the security officials to use force. He also said those who attacked the firms of former President Uhuru Kenyatta and Odinga would be brought to book. He added that he would issue policy directives against public demonstrations, which would take effect on Friday.

The opposition is, however, likely to challenge them in court as the constitution guarantees the right to peaceful protests.

On Wednesday evening, the government started to deploy police officers on major roads and key installations ahead of the Thursday protests.

Officers were also deployed to all streets, estates and neighborhoods in the capital city Nairobi and the lakeside city of Kisumu, where violent protests were likely to erupt to ensure that law-abiding persons go about their activities without intimidation, threats, or disruption of their daily activities. ■

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