Kenya on Thursday banned protest marches staged by opposition supporters against the electoral body after three weeks of looting and destruction of property across the country.
Cabinet Secretary for Interior, Fred Matiang’i, said the protests do not fall within the parameters set by the constitution which allows for peaceful demonstrations and picketing and warned of “dire consequences” for those challenging the ban.
“To stem further violence and destruction of property, the government from today prohibits all unlawful demonstrations within the country,” Matiang’i told journalists in Nairobi after holding talks with local investors.
“Protecting lives of people is not negotiable in as much as the enjoyment of personal rights is not absolute and we will do everything possible to maintain peace and tranquility,” he said.
The opposition coalition, the National Super Alliance (NASA) have been holding weekly protests in major towns across the country to demand the resignation of officials of the polls body who were implicated in electoral malpractices that led to the annulment of the Aug. 8 presidential elections.
During the protests on Wednesday, 23 people were injured during violent confrontations between police and anti-Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) demonstrators in Kenya’s third city, Kisumu whereas the capital city experienced massive looting of property.
In another opposition stronghold town of Homa Bay, a policeman was seriously injured when he was attacked by rioters who overwhelmed his colleagues and left him at the mercy of the mob when they retreated to their station.
Matiang’i accused the protestors of causing massive losses to businesses, and reiterated that organizers of demonstrations will from henceforth be personally held liable in the event of chaos and destruction to property.
“All those Kenyans whose property has been destroyed and looted should report to the police so that legal proceedings can commence against the instigators. We are in the process of preferring charges against one individual who has been notorious for organizing the protests,” said Matiang’i.
While announcing the ban, the cabinet secretary assured the country of elaborate security structure that has been put in place to contain violence, adding that the government will soon gazette the requisite conduct governing public procession.
Soure: Xinhua News