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Senator Crystal Asige faults Ruto for strong-arming Kenyans to demonstrate

Nominated Senator for Persons with Disabilities, Youth and Women, Ms Crystal Asige, is of the opinion that it is President William Ruto and his Kenya Kwanza government who are strong-arming Kenyans to pour into the streets to demonstrate, and not the opposition leader Raila Odinga.

In her statement released on Wednesday (July 19, 2023), Senator Asige said Kenyans are “fed up of what they have observed clearly as empty promises, surging cost of living, electoral and social injustice, a deteriorating economy, a fast-weakening shilling, nepotistic government appointments, excessive taxation, oppressive police tactics and violence, all compounding into an unprecedented failure of leadership.”

The senator’s statement has come as Azimio la Umoja – One Kenya Coalition commenced a three-day protest across the country.

She also reminded the government that the right to protest is not unique to Kenya and the only difference lies in the conduct exhibited by the police authorities in various countries including Tunisia, Senegal and South Africa.

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“Since 20th of March 2023, peaceful protesters have been marching and singing, carrying branches, wooden spoons, vuvuzela and exercising their right to assemble, picket and protest. And since then, without fail, they have been met with maximum force from police authorities in the form of live bullets, teargas canisters, high-pressure water cannons, physical intimidation and inflicted injuries. All in attempt to silence the frustrations and voices of the people of Kenya,” she said.

“Before something can grow, something must break, it is the nature of things. And human nature is stronger than any individual, any institution, or any technological invention seeking to control their behaviour. Ignoring them means subjecting ourselves to century-long patterns beyond any of our control,” the Senator added.

She called on Kenyans to understand that it is not Mr Odinga who has strong-armed Kenyans to pour into the streets to demonstrate, but it is the government that continues to do this by increasing the high cost of living.

“…and adding insult to injury, by making public threats, using divisive rhetoric and sweeping statements that peaceful demonstrators are hooligans, goons, and looters, when not long ago, they were courted day and night, east to west for their votes. It is a collective dissatisfaction and anger, that things have become worse, and not better in the slightest, after several promises and assurances that continue to be made by the Ruto regime,” she said.

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She also called out President Ruto for allowing political leaders allied to Kenya Kwanza Alliance to make inflammatory statements and to constantly attack opposition.

“Rushing into violent action, encouraging, unlawful police behaviour without considering the local and international consequences, is not what we expect of a government that claims to have a people-centered vision for our nation, a government that purports to have Kenya in calm control. Instead, it should carefully consider the long-term effects of its actions and their impact,” she said.

The senator urged the government to engage with possibilities, no matter how difficult it is for them to accept the mood of the country.

Mr Odinga is calling for civil disobedience to challenge the government for increasing taxes and introducing new ones, failure to check the runaway cost of living, replacement of election commissioners who disputed the 2022 presidential election results as well as the opening of the election servers opened to know who genuinely won the election.

Also read: Maandamano shutdown: Schools in Nairobi, Mombasa closed over demos