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Anti-government protests intensify in Kenya, African Union calls for calm

Tuesday March 28, 2023


Riot police officers fire tear gas to disperse supporters in Nairobi, Kenya [John Muchucha/Reuters]

Nairobi (HOL) - As anti-government protests intensify in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, the African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, has urged calm and dialogue to resolve the ongoing crisis. Thousands of protesters, led by opposition leader Raila Odinga and his party, Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition, are demanding electoral justice, lower food prices, and the resignation of President William Ruto. The government has declared the protests illegal, but Odinga asserts that Kenyans have a right to demonstrate.

The unrest began on March 21, 2023, resulting in the loss of lives, property damage, and economic disruption in Nairobi. A heavy police presence has tried to disperse protesters with water cannons and tear gas. Civil society groups and the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) have urged authorities to uphold citizens' constitutional right to peaceful demonstrations and called on police officers to avoid using excessive force.

In response to the situation, AUC Chairperson Mahamat has encouraged all parties involved to exercise restraint and engage in discussions to resolve their differences for the sake of national unity and reconciliation. Mahamat cited the successful general elections held in August 2022, which were unanimously confirmed by Kenya's Supreme Court, as evidence of the country's progress and commitment to democratic principles.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has also called for an end to the weekly demonstrations and urged the parties to engage in dialogue to address the underlying issues. However, the government has expressed its unwillingness to negotiate with those it perceives as pursuing selfish political interests.

As the situation continues to develop, businesses in Nairobi's central business district remain closed due to uncertainty surrounding the demonstrations and potential violence.


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