'Maandamano' to run Monday to Wednesday next week, says Sifuna

Edwin Sifuna.

ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna has said that Azimio will hold demonstrations for three consecutive days next week, from Monday to Wednesday, as the opposition seeks to intensify anti-government protests.

Speaking on Thursday on Citizen TV, the senator said the Kenya Kwanza government must listen to Kenyans.

According to Mr Sifuna, the decision has been influenced by what he called the failure of President William Ruto’s government to listen to Kenyans.

“Kenya Kwanza cannot order the arrest of Raila Odinga. From next week, we will have three days straight of protests from Monday to Wednesday until President Ruto listens to Kenyans,” Sifuna said on Citizen TV.

On Wednesday, demonstrators took to the streets to protest against the high cost of living and the Finance Act 2023.

The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) warned that Kenya is losing an estimated Sh3 billion a day due to protests.

On Thursday, Mr Sifuna, the ODM secretary general, insisted that Kenyans were angry because the government had imposed high taxes despite tough economic times.

Rioters defied a police order not to go out and protest and were met with a brutal police force. There were reports of seven deaths and scores who were injured.

Shoot at attendees

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya party leader Raila Odinga was forced to cancel his planned rally in Kamukunji on Wednesday, citing intelligence reports that armed pro-government thugs would shoot at attendees.

Addressing journalists at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation (JOOF) in Nairobi on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Odinga, who described the day’s nationwide protests as a success despite police brutality, alleged an elaborate plot by Kenya Kwanza to attack innocent Kenyans at the Kamukunji grounds.

“Late last night (Tuesday), we received intelligence of a most heinous plan by Kenya Kwanza to ferry armed goons who would attack peaceful attendees of our rally in Kamkunji. These goons had express orders to shoot directly into the crowd while enjoying police protection,” Mr Odinga told reporters.

The opposition leader said the protests were not over until the issues affecting Kenyans are addressed.

Mr Odinga said the protests would continue until President Ruto allows the repealing of the Finance Act 2023.

Lower cost of living

“There is no moving on until Ruto comes out and openly repeals the Finance Act, 2023 and issues other measures to lower cost of living,” he said.

Up to 20 counties were involved in the protests for most of Wednesday, with plumes of smoke from bonfires lit by demonstrators and tear gas canisters fired by police filling the atmosphere.

There were daylong running battles between police and protesters across the country, resulting in the deaths of seven people, including four in Mlolongo, two in Kitengela and one in Emali in Makueni County.

Business in Nairobi's Central Business District was slow, with many shops closed as most business owners feared attacks or looting during the protests.