Government in Kenya has prohibited protests in three of the country’s key cities Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu as political uncertainty heightens. With just two weeks left to the Presidential repeat election, there’s expected demonstrations from opposition supporters following the withdraw of their candidate Raila Odinga from the race.
Odinga pulled out of the race claiming his demands to have electoral reforms were not met. Some of these included firing electoral officials that presided over the August elections.
The decision to ban protests was announced Thursday by Kenya’s acting Minister for Internal Security Fred Matiangi who said the move was aimed at safeguarding lives and property.
Nairobi, the coastal city of Mombasa and opposition stronghold Kisumu have all witnessed violent protests since the release of the disputed August Presidential results. In total, about 37 people have died in such protests since August.
“Protecting the lives and properties of the people of Kenya is not negotiable. We have noted with great concern the escalation of lawlessness, breach of peace and public order during demonstrations organised by NASA,” Matiangi told a press conference in Nairobi.
According to Matiangi, the demonstrations held recently culmintated in attacks on police officers, disruption of normal business, assault on innocent civilians as well as looting of property.
“It is the responsibility of the organiser that all participants remain peaceful. The organisers shall be held personally liable for any breach of law during the demonstrations,” he said.
“Due to the clear present and imminent danger of breach of peace and public order as witnessed in recent demonstrations, the government notifies the public that for the time being we will not allow demonstrations within central business districts of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu,” Matiangi added.
In the aftermath of general elections in 2007, Kenya descended into ethnic clashes that left thousands dead and others displaced.
Government, civil society and the international community have all stressed the need to ensure peace prevails to avoid a reoccurrence of the events 10 years ago.