June 25, 2024

Raila Odinga denounces unprecedented police brutality against protesters in Kenya


Kenya has been witnessing a series of anti-government and anti-expense protests, organized by the opposition coalition Azimio and led by veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga. However, these protests have been marred by violence, leading to a mounting death toll and clashes with the police.

Raila Odinga spoke out against what he called “unprecedented police violence” during a press conference with foreign media in the capital city, Nairobi. He accused the police and gangs of using excessive force, resulting in the deaths and injuries of numerous unarmed individuals, particularly targeting the Luos, his ethnic group.

The opposition coalition, Azimio, has organized nine days of action since March, protesting against President William Ruto’s policies, which have been blamed for exacerbating the country’s economic difficulties. Some of these demonstrations have escalated into looting and confrontations with law enforcement. According to Azimio, around 50 people have been killed in the protests, while official figures put the number at 20.

In response to the accusations of police brutality, President Ruto expressed his support for the police, emphasizing the need to maintain firmness against criminals, gangs, and anarchists seeking to sow chaos.

Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have decried the actions of the police, documenting 27 cases of “extrajudicial, summary, and arbitrary executions” during a five-day protest in July.

In light of the violence, Azimio has shifted its approach and called for “marches and vigils of solidarity for victims of police violence” instead of “peaceful demonstrations.” They are urging Kenyans to come forward, light candles, and lay flowers in memory of the deceased.

Efforts for dialogue between President Ruto and Raila Odinga have been urged by various international bodies, including the UN and the Commonwealth Secretariat, as well as prominent Kenyan media outlets. While Odinga claims to be open to dialogue, the talks initiated by President Ruto earlier did not yield the desired results, leading to a resumption of protests in July.

Despite lower turnouts for the recent days of mobilization, Raila Odinga remains steadfast, stating that the protests are a response to the rising cost of living and excessive taxes imposed by President Ruto’s administration.

As the situation continues to unfold, the country remains tense, and the calls for dialogue and an end to police violence grow stronger.

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