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Kenya bans demos in major cities as businesses suffer loses

Storyline:National News
Supporters of the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition, carry banners and react during a protest calling for the sacking of election board officials involved in August’s cancelled presidential vote, in Nairobi, Kenya October 9, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

By Fauxile Kibet

The Kenyan government has banned demonstrations within the Central Business District in three major towns in the country following the destruction of property that was witnessed over the past weeks.

The country’s Internal Security Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i while addressing the media at Nairobi said that the government had instructed the police to take action against anyone going against the directive.

“While everyone has a right to demonstrate, they must not infringe on the rights of others. It is the responsibility of the organizers to ensure that the demonstrators do not infringe on other people’s property.”

Mr. Matiangi’s statement comes a day after pictures emerged on the country’s local media of demonstrators engaging in vandalism and looting on the streets of the country’s capital Nairobi.

The government’s move came at a time when the country’s business community have complained that the demonstrations were hurting the economy of the country.

The country’s stocks trade took a nose dive Tuesday after Opposition leader Raila Odinga announced that he had pulled out of the repeat elections set to be held on 26th October.

On Tuesday, the Nairobi Stocks Exchange (NSE) investors lost $157.4 million following Mr. Odinga’s announcement even as the country’s electoral body, Independent Electoral and Boundaries commission (IEBC) announced that the elections will take place as scheduled.

The Kenyan shilling has been resilient despite weeks of demonstrations but the prolonged political uncertainty could see the Kenyan economy take a major blow.

Constant exchanges between the opposition and the ruling party over the past couple of months have majorly affected investor confidence and caused serious effects on the economy.

The Country’s worker’s union Central Organization of Trader’s Union (COTU) called upon the opposing political sides to embrace dialogue as a way of unlocking the stalemate.

“We are losing jobs daily as a result of the ongoing demonstrations. We call upon politicians to reach out to each other embrace dialogue as a way to resolve the stalemate,” the organization’s Secretary General Mr Francis Atwoli said.


But even as the stock markets reported loses, the country’s currency (Kenya shilling) showed resilience as it remained stable despite the political events but there are fears that prolonged political stability could negatively impact on the currency.

Demonstrations rocked streets of Nairobi Tuesday and the opposition announced it would hold daily protests as from next week to push the electoral body to yield to their demands.

Mr. Odinga is demanding drastic electoral reforms before he accepts to take part in a repeat poll, demands the commission said were not attainable given the short period remaining to elections.

But in a new twist, a court in the country directed the IEBC to include Thirdway Alliance presidential candidate Ekuru Aukot in the October repeat elections. The electoral had earlier locked Aukot out of the poll allowing the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and his erstwhile political nemesis Mr. Odinga to square out.

This further complicates the situation as Mr. Odinga had argued that his pullout would compel the electoral body to restart the electoral cycle a fresh.

The country’s president Uhuru Kenyatta on his part criticized Mr. Odinga’s move saying that the elections must continue as held so as to save the country’s economy.

According to a research conducted by Starlink, most Kenyans hoped that a lasting solution could be found should the repeat polls take place.