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ONE DEAD UNIVERSITY STUDENT AND 200 ARRESTS FOLLOWING OPPOSITION-LED PROTEST IN KENYA

Region of Concern: Kenya

Written By Gabriela Peregrino; Edited by Cameron Munoz and Jennifer Loy

Date: March 21, 2023


Map of Kenya[1]


Event: One university student died, 31 officers were injured, and 200 people were arrested following protests led by opposition leader Raila Amolo Odinga on Monday in the western cities of Kisumu and Nairobi. Odinga announced the continuation of semiweekly protests calling for President William Ruto’s resignation and the reduction of high living expenses on Mondays and Thursdays beginning next week. Monday's protests became violent as police used tear gas, water cannons, and live bullets to separate protestors who responded by throwing stones at police. Odinga states police shot his car, shown by online photos of a shattered windshield. The opposition argues the protests were lawful based on the constitutional rights of peaceful protest despite the administration stating the demonstrations were illegal since permission was denied to hold them. Deputy President, Rigathi Gachagua, said the protests resulted in the country losing about 2 billion Kenya shillings (US$15 million), urging Odinga to call off the demonstrators. Odinga remains supportive of protests stating they will continue until living expenses decrease.[2]


Significance: Odinga’s encouragement and organizing of protests will likely gain more demonstrators in Nairobi, where President Ruto resides. The protestors will likely begin targeting federal buildings, including the Nairobi City Council, the National Assembly of Kenya, and the State House. Protests will likely lead to increased violence as police strengthen security measures and weapons in anticipation of protests. The financial losses from civil disorder, added security measures, infrastructure damages, citizen injuries, and deaths will likely intensify social and economic marginalization, increasing Kenya’s economic crisis. Distrust of the current administration will likely enhance political unrest allowing Odinga and his party to gain favor among marginalized citizens. Regional terrorist group al-Shabaab will likely use this political instability to target mass gatherings in the capital and boost recruitment efforts.


Recommendations: The Kenyan government should cooperate with Odinga to quell further civil disorder and establish terms of peace negotiations and bipartisan legislation. The police force should increase security posts around federal buildings as a security precaution until the conclusion of peace negotiations. The Kenyan government should enlist the humanitarian organization International Rescue Committee’s assistance for food shortages, disaster preparedness, relief, and emergency cash support. Government leaders should communicate with citizens about available humanitarian resources and how and when to obtain them through social media and community outreach. The Kenyan government should seek foreign assistance from the United States for economic support by revisiting bilateral trade agreements for Kenya’s ports to jumpstart economic recovery. Kenya’s National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) should work collaboratively with Kenya’s Defense Force to prevent targeted al-Shabaab attacks and mitigate recruitment efforts in Nairobi.

 

[2] University student killed in opposition-led protest in Kenya, Africa News, March 2023, https://www.africanews.com/2023/03/21/university-student-killed-in-opposition-led-protest-in-kenya/

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