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Small-scale traders blast Azimio mass action, plan protests

Police have denied small-scale traders a permit to hold demonstrations in Nairobi on March 20, 2023.

In retaliation, the traders conducted a peaceful protest at Nairobi central police station demanding authorization to be allowed to “safeguard” their businesses from Azimio demonstrators.

Azimio leader Raila Odinga has declared mass action against President William Ruto’s government which he considers illegitimate.

Mr Odinga has further called for protests in Nairobi on March 20, 2023.

Speaking during the demonstration, Michael Mwangi, the chairman of Small Scale Traders Association, criticized the Ministry of Interior for not providing them with guidance on issues of protection.

“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, and the statements made by the opposition leader are alarming. Although we acknowledge their right to demonstrate, we do not want our businesses to be jeopardized 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, 2023, President William Ruto gave an assurance to Kenyans that they need not be concerned about the warnings issued by opposition leaders regarding their plan to organize nationwide protests the following week.

Speaking at a meeting with Transnzoia county leaders at State House, Nairobi, the President emphasized 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.

Robert Arap Kemei, a trader from Nairobi stated that businesses have yet to fully recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, during which they incurred significant losses.

He adds 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

Regional police commander Nairobi Adanson Bungei has outlawed both Azimio la Umoja and Nairobi business community protests and vowed to protest Kenyans and their businesses.

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