Western embassies call for urgent solution to Kenya protests

Thursday March 30 2023
Kenyan police officers patrol a street in Nairobi

Kenyan police officers patrol a street during clashes with opposition supporters in Mathare, Nairobi on March 27, 2023. PHOTO | LUIS TATO | AFP


Western diplomatic missions in Nairobi are calling for an urgent solution to avert further damages from protests by opposition groups, even though they suggest, subtly, that the electoral outcomes currently in dispute in Kenya have already been addressed legally.

In a subtle endorsement of the government, the American Embassy, Australia, Canada, the British High Commission and a number of European Union member states asked leaders to seek a “swift solution for the common good of Kenya”.

But they subtly ruled out the demands from the opposition group for a re-check of servers at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission over rigging claims.

“We agree with the African Union Commission chairperson in recalling the successful conduct of the general elections in 2022, and the unanimous confirmation of their results by the Supreme Court,” the missions said in a statement.

Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway and Sweden also endorsed the call.

AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat

AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat who has called for dialogue in Kenya following violence during protests called opposition leader Raila Odinga. PHOTO | ISSOUF SANOGO | AFP


Cost of living

Since last week, supporters of the Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition led by Mr Raila Odinga have been demonstrating in Nairobi, Kisumu and some parts of western region, accusing the government of failing to address the cost of living, and the IEBC for hiding information about how it handled elections last year in which President William Ruto defeated Mr Odinga.

Dr Ruto’s victory was confirmed by the Supreme Court in September after describing Odinga’s evidence as hot air. But Odinga has argued new evidence proved he had been rigged out and demanded action by the Commission to open up their servers.

The African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat had called for calm and restraint in Kenya following deadly protests by the opposition groups, but also subtly told them to move on from the electoral quarrels.

“The Chairperson urges all stakeholders to exercise calm and engage in dialogue to address any differences that may exist in the supreme interest of national unity and reconciliation,” Faki said.

“In this regard, the Chairperson wishes to recall the successful conduct of General Elections in August 2022 in Kenya and the subsequent unanimous confirmation of the election outcome by the Supreme Court.”

The Missions said they are “deeply concerned” with the violence seen on Monday, including an attack on properties owned by Mr Odinga and former President Uhuru Kenyatta, but added they recognise the right to peaceful protests under Kenyan law. They called on all actors to “adhere to the principle of democracy, freedom and the rule of law.”