Nairobi traders denied permit to hold parallel demos

Demos NAirobi

Small scale traders in Nairobi hold demonstrations at Nairobi Central Police Station demanding for permit to hold parallel demos against Azimio in Nairobi.

Photo credit: Kennedy Amungo I Nation Media Group

Small scale traders in Nairobi have been denied a permit to hold parallel demonstration on March 20, 2023.

The traders conducted a peaceful protest to Nairobi Central Police Station demanding to be allowed to "safeguard" their businesses from the Azimio demonstrators on Monday.

On March 14, Azimio leader Raila Odinga declared the start of mass action against the Kenya Kwanza regime which he termed as illegitimate.

"Take note that on the March 20, 2023, we have a date with destiny in Nairobi. On that day our supporters throughout the country shall stage a massive procession in Nairobi for a legitimate and inclusive government. Save the date," Mr Odinga said. 

Speaking during the demonstration, the chairman of Small Scale Traders Association Michael Mwangi, criticised the Ministry of Interior for not providing them with guidance on how to protect their businesses.

“We were informed that we must provide notice for a demonstration within 72 hours, which implies that our request to get a permit to demonstrate was denied. As business-people, we are concerned about the impact of the Azimio protests on Monday. Although we acknowledge their right to demonstrate, we do not want our businesses to be jeopardised that’s why  we are seeking a permit for a peaceful demonstration to ensure that we can safeguard our enterprises,” said Mr Mwangi.

On March 15, President William Ruto gave an assurance to Kenyans that they need not be concerned about the warnings issued by opposition leaders regarding their plan for nationwide protests.

Speaking during a meeting with leaders from Transnzoia at State House, the President emphasised that Kenya operates under the rule of law and that no individual is exempt from it saying that Kenyans have the right to protest but must do so peacefully and within the law.

“The government will not allow loss of life, destruction of property and looting. We will not allow a few individuals who have refused to accept election results to cause chaos among peace loving people,” said President Ruto.

Mr Robert Arap Kemei, a trader from Nairobi stated that their businesses are in the process of recovering from the pandemic, during which they incurred significant losses.

Furthermore, he believes that the ongoing demonstration will not result in any positive outcomes.

“The reason why we are apprehensive and present here today is that Azimio protesters are expected to come from various locations, and we are not prepared for any demonstrations as we are still grappling with the effects of the Covid pandemic. Our economy is in a dire state, and we cannot afford to incur further losses. Our stance is that we will be ready to safeguard our businesses tomorrow, but we refuse to live in fear. We implore the government to protect our businesses if they want us to pay taxes,” Said Mr Kemei

However, Nairobi Regional Police Commander Adamson Bungei said both Azimio la Umoja and Nairobi business community had written to them about their intention to hold a protest on Monday.

"We are in receipt of two requests that came late yesterday and today in the m morning. One was from Azimio la Umoja One Kenya and another from the Nairobi business community. The two groups intended to have peaceful demos. But for public safety none has been granted," he said.

Mr Bungei said the two groups did not meet the threshold to be allowed to carry on with protest and warned of dire consequences for those who will break the law.

"Any person who will breach the peace or break the law during the procession shall be dealt with according to the law," he said.