Kenyan President William Ruto in a firm statement on Friday said that any future opposition protests against his government would not be tolerated. He cautioned his political rival against resorting to street demonstrations next week to express grievances.
Incidents across various regions of the East African nation on Wednesday resulted in the loss of nine lives.
The clashes erupted as demonstrators, rallying in defiance of a government ban, took to the streets to protest against opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Following this week’s rallies, over 300 individuals have been arrested. However, Odinga’s Azimio alliance has pledged to organize three consecutive days of demonstrations starting Wednesday.
Accusing last year’s presidential election of being “stolen,” Odinga has taken the lead in organizing a series of rallies this year to denounce what he considers an illegitimate government.
The police have faced allegations of employing excessive force and have received criticism for deploying tear gas against civilians. However, the government has defended its actions, stating that it cannot permit unchecked rioting and looting to occur.
Ruto said he “cannot accept anarchy” in Kenya and would not allow another week of rallies.
“Protests will no longer take place in our nation of Kenya. The one they have planned for Wednesday will not be possible,” Ruto told supporters in Nakuru county.
“I want to tell Raila Odinga that elections ended on August 8 last year. You can’t seek the leadership of our country through bloodshed, deaths, and destruction of property. There is no way you will change Kenya through the route you have taken.”
In the wake of the recent unrest, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, an independent parliamentary watchdog, has urged for an investigation into allegations of looting, vandalism, and police brutality.
They have cautioned that the country stands on the verge of anarchy.
According to the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, each day of protest results in an economic loss of approximately three billion shillings ($21.8 million).