NAIROBI – The Azimio coalition was permitted to hold a rally at Kamukunji grounds in protest of the recent enactment of the Finance Act, as confirmed by Nairobi’s police chief, Adamson Bungei, on the 27th of June, 2023.
The coalition had fulfilled the necessary prerequisites for public assembly, according to Bungei, and their rally, known as “Kamukunji’s People’s Dialogue,” was allowed to proceed without interference from law enforcement. “The meeting was sanctioned, and there was no reason for undue concern,” Bungei stated.
The rally was strategically planned to commence at 1 pm, following the return of the coalition’s leader, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, from Poland. The gathering was intended to strategize a path forward for the coalition’s supporters in the wake of the controversial Finance Bill’s passage.
The Finance Bill, which was signed into law by President William Ruto earlier that week, had gained approval from parliament after a third reading led by Kuria Kimani, the chair of the National Assembly’s Finance and National Planning Committee. This enactment signals that Kenyans will have to endure greater financial burdens to fund the inaugural budget of the Kenya Kwanza government.
The Bill garnered the support of 184 Kenya Kwanza MPs, with the notable exception of Githunguri MP Gathoni Wamuchomba, while 88 MPs, predominantly from the Opposition, stood in opposition.
Following the Bill’s passage, Azimio co-principal Martha Karua announced plans for a consultative meeting at Kamukunji grounds. “We invited Kenyans to a consultation at the Kamukunji grounds, where the next course of action was decided. We believe in the end it is the people’s voice that will prevail,” she stated.
The coalition has considered resuming street protests as part of their opposition to what they view as the government’s disregard for the struggles of the Kenyan majority. These demonstrations had been previously suspended to facilitate dialogue with the government, a process that has since come to a standstill due to mutual accusations of stonewalling.
In response to the looming threat of public unrest, the government has consistently maintained that it will not tolerate any form of lawlessness, including disruptions of businesses, destruction of property, and looting during protests.
Despite this, Interior CS Professor Kithure Kindiki reiterated that Kenya, as a democratic nation, respects the diversity of political, economic, and social viewpoints. He urged those aggrieved by the vote’s outcome to seek legal redress and pledged government support for peaceful expressions of dissent concerning the Finance Bill 2023. “The Government will provide the necessary security support to those who wish to air their grievances and views peaceably,” Prof Kindiki affirmed.