Protester, your right ends where mine begins

Mass Action

Kisumu residents poured into Kisumu streets in their thousands in their second mass action that had been sanctioned by the Azimio la Umoja Coalition leader Raila Odinga.

Photo credit: Rushdie Oudia | Nation Media Group

My dear compatriots, I hope this letter finds you in a clear state of mind. I understand, as you do, that the state of our economy is bad and many of us live from hand to mouth.

Indeed, the situation is projected by economists and the government to continue for some months. 

It is in view of the prevailing situation and the last general election’s outcome that opposition leaders, led by former prime minister Raila Odinga, have been traversing the country over the past month to galvanise the citizenry towards their agenda of mass action on Monday, March 20. In the protest, they hope to compel the government to address the high cost of living, curb runaway corruption and initiate an audit of the election, among other demands.

The right to protest is guaranteed under Article 37 of the Constitution. Therefore, the opposition leaders and their supporters will be perfectly within the confines of the law.

To the ordinary Kenyans, as we participate in these protests either by commission or omission, kindly be guided that, under the Bill of Rights in our Constitution, every person has a right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions to public authorities. But the person must be conscious of the rights of other Kenyans and not infringe on them.

Since a good number of the protesters are ordinary Kenyans—Mama Mboga and boda boda ‘hustlers’, as the political class likes to call them, I urge them to ensure the safety of one another during and after the march.

The protesters must desist from destroying other people’s property or injuring others. To the political class, I beseech you to desist from utterances that could divide the nation along tribal or class lines. 

In the words of Maria Robinson, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Let the current political dispensation and economic situation in the country invigorate the desire in us to question and hold our leaders accountable.

Mr Ochieng’ is a political analyst. [email protected].