Nairobi, Kenya, Mar 26- The Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome has come under heavy criticism from Kenyans and opposition leaders after he outlawed the planned anti-government protests.
Koome told journalists Sunday at police headquarters that he has not allowed any form of protests in the country, whatsoever.
“As the Inspector General of police, I have not approved any form of protests in the country because they (Azimio) keep telling us that they are looking for servers which do not fall within our mandate,” he said and maintained that the issue of servers is political that requires political solutions.
He went on to say that in as much as the constitution permits Kenyans to picket, it provides that they do so peaceably without causing chaos.
While reacting to the directive by Koome, Opposition chief Raila Odinga said the Azimio coalition will not be “intimidated to call off the mass protests because we are fighting for justice.”
“I am telling the Inspector General of Police Japheth Koome to prepare to protect peaceful demonstrators. We are not going to call off our peaceful demonstrations because that is our right,” Odinga said at a church service Sunday.
On her part, Narc-Kenya party leader Martha Karua scoffed at the IG order noting that it is not the mandate of police to grant permission for demonstrations.
Karua dared the IG to arrest her and other leaders during the protests.
“We are going to march peacefully, we are going to demand our rights as our constitutions say and we shall not entertain any message meant to set us back,” Karua said.
Democratic Alliance Party of Kenya (DAP-K) leader Eugene Wamalwa echoed the sentiments citing that protests are currently ongoing in other parts of the world and Kenya is no exception.
“In France, the protests are on retirement age. In South Africa, it is about power blackouts. In Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu is facing protests over his leadership. What about us? Don’t we have problems in Kenya?” he asked.
On his part, Narok Senator Ledama Olekina questioned Koome’s past conduct where he was filmed allegedly throwing a stone on a motorist during the past demos.
He was responding to Koome’s announcement that the police will take more photos of all those who will be found destroying property in the upcoming protests.
“A crime is a crime it does not matter when the picture was taken!” I agree with you Koome!” Ole Kina said.
Odinga has launched demonstrations since last week on Monday to force the government to tackle the high cost of living and protest the presidential victory he claims was stolen from him during the August 2022 polls won by President William Ruto.
“I am calling on Kenyans to turn out in large numbers for the peaceful demonstrations. Do not fear the police or the teargas,” Odinga said and blamed the police for disrupting last Monday’s “peaceful” demonstrations.
During last Monday’s protests, several businesses and properties were destroyed or looted in both cities that literally shut for the better part of the day and at least one person was shot dead by the police-a student at Maseno University.
Koome said the planned protests by Azimio coalition are illegal and police are under firm instructions to disperse them.
“We will not spare anyone,” Koome said, “those demonstrations are illegal and I can assure you that we are not going to allow them to take place.”
President Ruto has warned against the protests and instead told Odinga he will not engage him in talks, accusing him of destabilizing the country for his own selfish interests like he did in two former regimes that ended up accommodating him.
“Kenyans made their decision during the August 2022 polls, we are done with the polls and all that remains is prepare for development,” he said, “we are not going to engage Raila because he knows he lost and we won.”