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Kindiki issues zero tolerance policy for violent protests, with or without notice

The Cabinet Secretary for Interior and National Administration, Kithure Kindiki, has announced that violent protests of any kind will no longer be tolerated in Kenya.

In a statement, Kindiki said that the government will not allow any protests that cause harm to people, security officers, businesses, or property, with or without notice. He warned that anyone who engages in such protests will face the full force of the law.

“No more violent protests shall be allowed anywhere in Kenya. With or without notices, demonstrations and protests of any type which injure people, security officers, businesses and property shall be prevented at all costs,” Kindiki stated.

The announcement came after a series of violent protests rocked Nairobi and Kisumu cities in the past week, leaving a trail of death, injury, and destruction. The protests were allegedly triggered by political grievances or land disputes, but were hijacked by hordes of criminals who used the opportunity to loot, vandalize, and burn public and private facilities.

In Nairobi, the Kibra suburb was the epicenter of the violence, where ethnic tensions flared up and a church and a mosque were torched by arsonists. Police officers were pelted with stones and other objects as they tried to restore order. Two civilians were killed in the clashes, while 51 police officers and 85 civilians were injured. Journalists were also not spared as they were robbed and attacked by knife-wielding gangs as they covered the protests.

In Kisumu, several properties were looted and burnt down by rioters, including hotels, markets, supermarkets, and offices belonging to various businesses and political parties. The Imperial Hotel, Kibuye Market, The United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party branch office, Patel and Posta Flats, Quickmart, and Sairam Supermarkets were among the facilities that were destroyed. In neighboring Migori County, the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Rongo branch was extensively damaged by riotous mobs.

In Ruiru, a large group of about 2,000 people stormed a private property belonging to the Kenyatta family, where they vandalized the farm, stole livestock, set fires, and attempted to construct makeshift houses to occupy the land. They claimed that they were reclaiming their ancestral land that was grabbed by the former president.

Kindiki said that the National Police Service has rightfully and lawfully determined that the protests pose a clear, present, and imminent danger to the peace and public order. He said that the organizers of the protests failed to comply with the Public Order Act that requires them to specify the sites and routes of meetings or processions during the protests. He also accused some politicians of inciting violence and funding criminal gangs to cause chaos.

“The duty imposed by Section 5(3) and (8) of the Public Order Act (cap. 56, Laws of Kenya) on organizers of protests to assist the police in the maintenance of peace and order was abrogated. Similarly, the organizers refused and/or failed to discharge their duty under the same Act to specify the sites and routes of meetings or processions during the protests,” he stated.

Kindiki said that he will be issuing policy directives to the Inspector General of the National Police Service, which will take effect on March 31, 2023, outlining the measures that the police will take to ensure public safety and security during demonstrations of any type.

The directives will cover the enhancement of security for all Kenyans and foreign nationals lawfully in Kenya, the investigations and accountability of all persons found to have committed criminal acts during the protests, the provision of security to all persons whose property has been violated or looted during the protests, and the provision of round-the-clock security to all streets, estates and neighbourhoods in Nairobi, Kisumu and any other place where violent protests may erupt in the future.

He urged Kenyans to respect the rule of law and exercise their rights peacefully and responsibly. He said that the government is committed to addressing any legitimate grievances through dialogue and constitutional means. He also assured Kenyans that security agencies are working round-the-clock to ensure their safety and security.

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