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Doctors threaten legal action against IG Koome

Inspector General of Police, Japhet Koome, is facing calls to retract and apologise for comments he made regarding the ongoing doctors’ strike.

Koome had issued a warning to the striking doctors, describing their actions as obstructive and causing disruptions to traffic and public movement.

“In the interest of national security, therefore, all respective Police Commanders have been instructed to deal with such situations firmly and decisively in accordance with the law,” said the Inspector General.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union (KMPDU), along with the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), Katiba Institute (KI), Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), and other civil society organizations (CSOs), have demanded that Koome comply with their request by 6 pm today, Sunday, April 14.

Advocate Ochiel Dudley confirmed that a notice has been served to Koome, asserting that the doctors are exercising their lawful right to picket.

“Alongside your retraction, an apology is also required for the violent incident involving police and Dr Davji Atela on February 27, 2024,” the statement read.

Failure to meet this demand could result in legal action against Koome.

KMPDU Secretary General, Davji Atellah, also responded to Koome’s remarks, stating that the comments undermine the doctors’ rights to peaceful protest and presentation of their grievances.

Atellah emphasised that the union had followed proper procedures for the demonstrations, which unfortunately were met with hostility by security forces.

“The statement from the National Police Service, which threatens striking doctors and clinical officers, not only dismisses their legitimate concerns but also establishes a worrying precedent of authoritarianism,” Atellah commented.

“This directive essentially sanctions violence against Kenyan citizens exercising their fundamental rights.”

The nationwide strike led by KMPDU has entered its fourth week, while the strike initiated by the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) is in its third week.

Negotiations between the government and the striking doctors have stalled, with doctors demanding full implementation of the 2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).