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Why Azimio has suspended Wednesday protests

The Azimio La Umoja One Kenya coalition announced on Monday, July 24, the suspension of anti-government protests scheduled to take place across the country on Wednesday.

The leaders instead asked Kenyans to hold solidarity parades and vigils for victims of police brutality at various locations across the country.

In a statement, the Raila Odinga-led coalition urged its supporters to come out, light candles and lay flowers, preferably white, in remembrance and respect for the victims.

“We are calling Kenyans to come out and light candles and lay flowers in remembrance of and respect for the victims. During the vigils, candle lighting and laying of flowers, we encourage Kenyans to say prayers and read out the names of the victims of police brutality. We shall provide the list of the victims in time for the exercise,” the statement said.

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“On this day, we will also begin the process of reaching out to the families of the victims to offer any assistance that can ease their burden. During the vigils, candle lighting and floral tributes, we encourage Kenyans to say prayers and read the names of the victims.”

According to the coalition, 50 deaths have been reported so far, with hundreds of others being injured and admitted to hospitals with grave injuries.

“Some have been shot in the back as they were fleeing or in a position of surrender. The shots have been aimed at the vital organs and delicate parts of the victims like the abdomen, the spine, the chest and the head,” it said.

They also asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open investigations on the conduct of police officers during the protests.

“We ask Kenyans to pray also that the International Criminal Court takes up the matter based on an expanded list of perpetrators that we intend to furnish with the court in due course,” it added.

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The announcement came amid pressure from the international community and church leaders for the coalition to call off the protests and give dialogue a chance.

Azimio now wants religious leaders to dedicate Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for prayers in remembrance of the victims of police brutality during the past peaceful demonstrations.

On Monday, former President Uhuru Kenyatta denied claims that he is funding opposition protests, saying that even though he remains chairman of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition council, his role has nothing to do with the daily operations of the party.

This comes after several leaders, including President William Ruto, his deputy Gachagua, and several members of the Cabinet and Kenya Kwanza legislators have on numerous occasions alleged that Uhuru is sponsoring Raila’s maandamano, and vowed to stop him.

“I am not funding Azimio demonstrations, what would be my reason to fund the protests? Raila is my party leader and I supported him in the 2022 General Election, should my relationship with him stop because he is leading the protests?” he said.

Ruto is under increasing pressure amid a spiraling cost of living and the announcement of several tax increases.

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