In a decisive stance against planned anti-government protests across Kenya, the country’s president on Friday vowed to quell any unrest and maintain law and order nationwide.
William Ruto’s stern warning was directed at opposition leader Raila Odinga, stressing that the protests scheduled for next week will not be permitted to take place.
“These demos will not happen, Kenya is for all of us, it is not for demos,” Ruto said.
The Azimio la Umoja–One Kenya Coalition Party, led by Odinga, on Friday also announced a three-day series of demonstrations set to commence next Wednesday.
Odinga said the decision to extend the protests to Thursday and Friday was made in response to widespread public demand, as citizens rail against the soaring cost of living and new taxes on petroleum products.
“Going forward, the peaceful protests will now be held on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday next week, in line with requests from the public,” he said.
The UN Human Rights Office has called on the Kenyan police to protect protesters and urged anti-riot police officers to apply the law equally and ensure the safety of all citizens.
Jeremy Laurence, spokesperson for the office, expressed concern over previous incidents of violence during protests, stating: “In light of calls for further protests next week, we call on the authorities to ensure the right to peaceful assembly as guaranteed by the Kenyan Constitution and international human rights law.”
Laurence said that reports say up to 23 people were killed and dozens injured in demonstrations over the last week.
The recent wave of protests across Kenya is taking place as citizens take to the streets to voice their discontent over tax hikes.
The demonstrations have already claimed the lives of six individuals who were killed by police, further fueling public frustration and demands for change.
President Ruto’s unequivocal rejection of the upcoming anti-government protests sets the stage for a potential showdown between the government and opposition next week.