Photo: Wikimedia Commons
On March 21, 2023, thousands gathered to protest the newly elected Kenyan government, led by opposition figure Raila Odinga of the Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition Party. Odinga, who served as Prime Minister from 2008 to 2013, has previously claimed election fraud in his multiple unsuccessful presidential campaigns. After losing to President William Ruto in 2022, he has maintained that the election was stolen.
President Ruto, a member of the United Democratic Alliance Party, was elected as Kenya's fifth president and is the country's first evangelical Christian president. His supporters argue that he is dedicated to combating corruption and political dynasties.
Initially, peaceful demonstrations turned violent in Nairobi and Kisumu, with protesters clashing with police, throwing stones, and setting tires ablaze. Police responded with water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets, eventually resorting to live ammunition when supplies dwindled.
Official reports state that one protester was killed, with 238 arrests, over 200 injuries among protesters, and 31 officers injured. However, the Independent Medico-Legal Unit claims four protesters died and 50 others sustained injuries.
The ongoing unrest has exacerbated Kenya's economic struggles, which include skyrocketing food and fuel costs, a plummeting currency, and a record drought affecting millions. Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua estimates that the protests have cost the nation roughly $15 million (2 billion Kenya shillings) in lost business.
Odinga has called for bi-weekly protests until the economy recovers and President Ruto resigns. Despite the recent turmoil, streets appeared calm on the Tuesday following the latest demonstrations.
Points to Consider
Kenya has a history of unrest and violence following presidential elections.
Odinga has run to become President of Kenya five times, with none of his attempts being successful.
The Azimo la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition Party includes over 20 political parties.
Ruto is the country's first evangelical Christian President.
He is a member of the United Democratic Alliance Party.