In an escalating series of events fueled by the soaring cost of living, the streets of Kenya became the backdrop for a significant public demonstration on Wednesday, with more than 300 individuals taken into custody. The protests, largely driven by the burden of high living expenses on everyday Kenyans, caught the attention of the world and sparked a trend on Google, marked by the keyword ‘Kenya Protests’.
The call to protest was led by the leader of Azimio, Raila Odinga, whose unwavering commitment to the cause is evident from his pledge to rally for additional protests on Thursday. Among the arrested were residents of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, and numerous other Kenyan cities, as reported by the Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki. These arrests occurred amidst the ensuing confrontations between the police and the protesters.
As per Kindiki’s official statement, the arrested individuals “will be charged with various crimes, including looting, malicious damage of property, arson, robbery with violence, assaulting law enforcers among other crimes.” Unconfirmed reports also came in about two fatalities from gunshots in Kisumu, adding a grim undertone to the Kenyan protests.
Despite these daunting circumstances, Odinga maintained his resolve, encouraging Kenyans to persevere, emphasizing the continuation of peaceful demonstrations. In an interview with the Daily Nation, he confirmed the release of his bodyguard, Maurice Ogeta, while also advocating for the release of at least nine Azimio leaders arrested during Wednesday’s protests.
Prominent among those apprehended were Babu Owino, the Embakasi East MP, and Stewart Madzayo, the Senator from Kilifi. Additionally, numerous supporters of Azimio were arrested in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, and other towns as police deployed tear gas to quell the protests, which saw an uptick despite the government’s warnings against them in the aftermath of violence from prior demonstrations that resulted in over a dozen fatalities over the past fortnight.
Adding to the growing tension, the opposition has pledged three consecutive days of protests against President William Ruto’s administration, causing concern among the international community who are now calling for a political resolution to the unfolding crisis.
As the protests raged on, schools and commercial establishments shuttered their doors in Nairobi and opposition strongholds such as Mombasa and Kisumu. Small bands of primarily young men set ablaze tires and clashed with police in a series of running skirmishes. Despite the volatile situation, the government issued a directive on Wednesday evening, ordering schools to re-open on Thursday.
These unfolding events in Kenya, marked by widespread arrests, protests, and a struggle against the escalating cost of living, have generated significant global interest. As the situation continues to evolve, the eyes of the world remain focused on Kenya, a testament to the enduring spirit of its citizens in their pursuit of a more affordable life.