On Wednesday, July 19, the opposition organised a second round of rallies, and during that wave, Kenyan police officers and protesters—some of whom were throwing stones—fought one another. The skirmishes, which resulted in the deaths of at least 12 people,
The opposition has called for nationwide demonstrations to take place over the course of three days, with the goal of pressuring the president to overturn a new tax law. Ruto had previously pledged that there would be no demonstrations and stated that he would confront opposition leader Raila Odinga “head-on.”
According to a police officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, four protestors were hurt in the Mathare neighborhood of the capital city, Nairobi. The officer was speaking in the capital city’s Mathare neighborhood. The Associated Press was present in Mathare when they saw one man get shot in the shoulder and two other men get shot in the leg.
Alvin Sikuku, a health records worker in the Kangemi neighborhood of Nairobi, disclosed to the Associated Press that two young males had been brought into the Eagle Nursing Home clinic. He stated, “Police are using live rounds,” and I quote: “Both of these men were shot; one was hit in the back, which caused him considerable injury, while the other was shot in the leg. “We do not yet know if they were protesting or just walking by,” said Sikuku. “We don’t know” means “we do not yet know.”
Medical Superintendent James Waweru of the Nakuru Referral Hospital in the city of Nakuru confirmed that four people came in with gunshot wounds. Two of the patients were wounded in the belly; one was shot in the chest; and the fourth patient was shot in the leg. There had been a fifth victim who had been cut and injured.
President William Ruto had previously guaranteed that there would be no demonstrations and stated that he would “head-on” challenge opposition leader Raila Odinga. Wycliffe Onyango, a citizen of Nairobi, called on the president to take a more conciliatory stance toward the conflict.
No matter how much money we make, it all goes toward purchasing food. There is currently no work being done at this time. We are going through pain. I implore the government to take action on the rising cost of living. Vice President William Ruto and the Leader of the Opposition in Kenya, Raila Odinga, need to have a conversation. It is time for the government to quit beating its chest. Ruto is acting inappropriately by pounding his chest.
Another local citizen who advocated for the conduct of negotiations was Sheikh Amza. He said, “I do not support the protests, nor do I support the cost of living.” It’s healthy for people to look for different ways to solve problems, like having conversations with one another. The damage to property and the loss of lives will not solve the situation and will actually make things worse. It is a tragedy that we have witnessed individuals losing their lives and property being destroyed.
In an effort to bring an end to the demonstrations, religious leaders have made a plea for discussion to take place between the administration and the opposition. On Wednesday, Catholic bishops issued a statement in which they reiterated that “no further blood should be shed” and encouraged the president to rescind the recently approved Finance Act, which has disturbed many Kenyans. The statement was delivered in response to a protest that was held in Nairobi.
Because the law requires the government to execute a doubling of the value-added tax on petroleum products to 16%, the price of fuel has increased to its highest level since the law was passed. In spite of a court order that had been issued to halt the introduction of the contentious new taxes, the prices have been put into force.
This week, the International Monetary Fund referred to the passage of the law as a “crucial” step toward reducing the risks associated with Kenya’s high levels of debt. On Tuesday (the 18th of July), Western envoys from 13 different countries released a united statement in which they called for discussion.
The Ministry of the Interior stated that more than 300 people were arrested during the demonstrations that took place on Wednesday and that they will be charged with offenses such as looting, destroying property, and assaulting police officers.
In a statement, the opposition denounced the arrests of seven elected leaders and two close associates of Odinga, referring to them as a “desperate attempt” on the part of the Ruto administration to incapacitate the opposition.
Businesses and schools were closed while the police in Nairobi used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protesters. There were reports of protests taking place in a number of other regions of the country, including the western counties of Kisumu, Migori, and Kisii, which are strongholds of support for the opposition.
The police had claimed that the demonstrations were unlawful since no permit had been obtained; nevertheless, the Kenyan constitution guarantees citizens the right to participate in peaceful demonstrations. Thursday (July 20) will see the continuation of protests, according to the opposition.
Watchdog organizations report that at least ten individuals lost their lives during the demonstrations that took place the week before; a police officer told the Associated Press that at least six people lost their lives. After tear gas was sprayed into their school compound, a number of other people, including 53 children, went into shock. These people were among the injured.
The Kenya Medical Association stated that its members had attended to “hundreds of injured Kenyans and witnessed tens of fatalities” as a result of protests in recent months. Additionally, the Kenya Medical Association stated that access to health facilities was limited for both patients and staff, which led to an increase in the number of deaths.
Human Rights Watch has encouraged political leaders to avoid referring to protestors as “terrorists” and to respect the right to participate in peaceful demonstrations. In addition, the organisation criticised the police for using excessive force and real gunshots to fight the demonstrators.