Raila leads Azimio supporters in honouring victims of police brutality
Opposition leader Raila Odinga on Wednesday led his supporters in holding vigils across the country in remembrance of Kenyans who lost their lives at the hands of police officers during the recent anti-government protests.
This was a departure from the initially planned street protests, with Mr Odinga and his allies in Azimio la Umoja – One Kenya Coalition instead holding solidarity parades in honour of victims of police brutality.
The decision to hold vigils was announced in a statement released by Azimio la Umoja on Monday, with leaders of the opposition coalition reiterating their commitment to seeking justice for the victims of police brutality and holding accountable those responsible for the atrocities.
“We wish to appeal that upon lighting the candles and laying the wreaths, groups organize themselves, sing our Nation’s Anthem and say prayers for justice for the dead and the injured,” Mr Odinga said.
The exercise kicked off at 6am with lighting of candles and laying of wreaths at different convergence points, including hospitals, parks, bus stages, churches, markets, shopping centers, social halls, county assemblies and county headquarters.
In Nairobi, Azimio leaders and their supporters converged at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation where speaker after speaker recounted heart-wrenching stories of police brutality that was witnessed during the protests.
Candles were lit and held aloft as a sign of remembrance of those who lost their lives.
In Mr Odinga’s Kisumu bastion, there was a peaceful procession on the streets by members of the public who carried flowers and candles.
Homa Bay, another of Mr Odinga’s stronghold, witnessed a similar display of solidarity as members of the public came together in honour of the injured and those who lost their lives.
The vigils also served as a platforms for the victims’ families to share their personal stories. The vigils were held hours after President William Ruto offered to Mr Odinga for face-to-face talks when he returns from a trip to Tanzania.
“My friend Raila Odinga, I’m off to Tanzania for a human capital meeting to harmonize the expansion of employment opportunities in our continent. I’m back tomorrow evening, and as you have always known, I am available to meet one-on-one with you anytime at your convenience,” President Ruto tweeted on Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, the government on Tuesday said one police officer was killed and 305 injured during countrywide protests.
“The National Police Service also lost 158 vehicles which were either burnt down or severely damaged by criminals masquerading as protesters,” Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo said on Tuesday.
“More than 850 shops and other business premises were also broken into and looted while 199 buildings were destroyed and various public utilities worth billions of shillings vandalized,” he added.