Tensions in the country have reached boiling point, with the Azimio coalition leader, Raila Odinga, reportedly going into hiding from his official residence in Karen to evade a possible house arrest. The police are considering house detention for Odinga and other leaders in a bid to address the confusion arising from planned mass protests scheduled for March 20. However, the move is seen by some as counterproductive and may lead to the protests turning violent.
The Azimio leaders are protesting against the high cost of living, electoral injustices, and President William Ruto’s move to recruit poll officials, among other issues.
The protests are set to take place in major towns, including Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru, Mombasa, and Kakamega. Police have been mobilized from rural areas to handle the anticipated protests, and there are fears that chaos may break out, leading to looting and other forms of violence.
The police have instructed their officers to use minimum force to manage the protests and avoid injuring protesters. However, there are concerns that some officers may not adhere to these instructions, leading to violent confrontations between protesters and the police.
In Nairobi, certain managers of motor bazaars removed their vehicles from display due to their concerns about potential chaos during the protests.
Police received information that many individuals were traveling to Nairobi for the protests, and they also feared that chaos could ensue. There were rumors that security officials were contacting protest organizers to reach an agreement about the location and manner of the event.
Additionally, some sources suggested that the leaders be placed under house arrest to address the confusion. Azimio leader Raila Odinga stated that their first stop would be Harambee House, the Office of the President, to leave a petition for William Ruto. Ruto reportedly chaired a National Security Council meeting to discuss the matter, though the details of the meeting were limited.
Numerous groups and individuals have been urging talks to prevent the protests. Archbishop Anthony Muheria of the Nyeri Archdiocese appealed to leaders to reduce their tensions and cancel the planned mass action protests. The church expressed concern about the potential disruptions that the demonstrations could cause throughout the country.