Nine people were killed and more than 300 arrested during protests on Wednesday against new taxes in Kenya banned by authorities, according to a human rights commission and an official source.
These rallies organized in several towns across the country were punctuated by looting and clashes between demonstrators and police, the former throwing stones, the latter responding with tear gas and live ammunition.
Police have been accused of brutality and criticized for firing tear gas at civilians, including at a school, hospitalizing dozens of children.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s Azimio alliance announced on Thursday that its protests would resume “on Wednesday, July 19, 2023”, vowing to continue street action until results are obtained on its battle over the cost of life.
The day before, nine people were killed during a new day of opposition mobilization, according to the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights (KNCHR), an independent organization, which assured AFP that it was based on a police count.
The Commission called for investigations into police brutality and looting, warning that the country was “on the brink of anarchy”.
According to the KNCHR, four people were killed in Mlolongo, a suburb of Nairobi, and five in different towns in Kenya, while many others as well as law enforcement personnel were injured.
In a statement, the KNCHR “strongly condemns the excessive force used by the police when arresting protesters. While the maintenance of law and order is crucial, it must never come at the expense of the rights of the man and the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals”.
For its part, the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA), announced on Thursday the opening of an investigation into “reported deaths resulting from gunshot wounds” as well as other incidents which have caused casualties or property damage.
Police say one of the victims is a man who was killed in clashes between rival groups in Sondu, on the border of Kericho and Kisumu, the latter being a stronghold of Odinga.
“312 people who directly or indirectly planned, orchestrated or financed the violent demonstrations and acts of lawlessness (on Wednesday), including a deputy, have been arrested and will be prosecuted for various criminal offences”, declared for his part the minister . of the Interior Kithure Kindiki, vilifying “hooliganism” and “lawlessness”.
“The search for other people responsible (for this violence) is ongoing,” he added.
At the origin of the anti-government mobilization, the veteran Kenyan opposition, Raila Odinga, several times unsuccessful candidate in the presidential election, accused the police on Wednesday of having “shot, injured and killed demonstrators”. especially in Nairobi.
On Wednesday, the Minister of the Interior castigated “generalized violence” and “looting” , while assuring that “this culture of impunity” would “end” . These incidents took place a few days after other deadly demonstrations against the government of President William Ruto in several cities of the country.
At least six people were killed last Friday during these rallies, according to the Interior Ministry. NGOs then denounced violent police repression.
At the beginning of July, President Ruto promulgated a budget law which introduces a series of new taxes, despite criticism from the opposition and the population of this country affected by high inflation.
Azimio intends to organize protests every week against government policy. Mr. Odinga was defeated by William Ruto in the August 2022 presidential election, but still disputes the results, believing that the victory was “stolen” from him.