NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 26 – Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua has vowed to take part in Monday street protests, dismissing a ban issued by the police.
Karua said Kenyans have a right to participate in any peaceful demonstration as enshrined in the Constitution.
“I am ready and Kenyans are ready to go to the streets tomorrow (Monday),” Karua said at a church service on Sunday in the company of Opposition leader Raila Odinga and other leaders who have equally vowed to lead protests on Monday.
They have dismissed a ban by the Inspector General of Police Japheth Koome who has threatened to arrest anyone taking part in violent demonstrations, regardless of their status.
“You said that you will arrest us, I dare you to arrest me during the protests,” Karua, who was Raila Odinga’s running mate under the Azimio coaltion in the August 2022 elections, said.
Odinga has launched demonstrations since last week 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.
Odinga and Karua have vowed to continue leading the protests “until Kenyans get justice.”
“If at all we were intimidated by anything we would have not been here planning for the protests. People have protested before and since they had unity, Kenya managed to have many parties,” Karua said.
Police on horseback during Opposition protests in Kenya’s capital Nairobi on March 20, 2023.
Similar protests turned violent in Nairobi and Kisumu last week on Monday when one person- a student at Maseno University was shot dead.
Several businesses and properties were also destroyed or looted in both cities literally shut for the better part of the day.
“You all saw what happened on Monday last week. It will not happen again,” Koome declared, “We have heard some people say that they will cause violence in Nairobi tomorrow (Monday). Nothing of that sort will happen because the security agencies are ready to protect every Kenyan.”
Koome said anyone found armed with stones or any other weapon will be dealt with as a criminal.
IG Japheth Koome addressing a press conference on Sunday March 26, 2023.
But Odinga has said he will press on with the protests, saying he wants justice while claiming his victory was stolen.
He wants the electoral commission compelled to open servers so as to confirm the results of the election that were relied on to declare Ruto president.
Soon after the August 2022 polls, Odinga unsuccessfully challenged the outcome at the Supreme Court.
On Sunday the police chief said that the issue of opening servers is political.
“Those are political issues that need political solutions. But when it comes to security, I have a mandate as the IG to ensure I protect life and property and I am very good at that,” he said.
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 as 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.”