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Civil society groups plead violence cessation

More Kenyans continue to come out to condemn the protests that have rocked some parts of the country since Wednesday this week.

Several civil societies under the umbrella Kenyans National Dialogue Forum (KNDF) have called for a cessation of the countrywide demos initiated by the Azimio-One Kenya opposition coalition, saying the demos have led to the loss of many lives and property worth billions of shillings.

Led by Ms. Shamsa Abubakar Fadhil, who is the National Chair of Peace and Security Kenya (PSK), the civil society leaders called on President William Ruto and Azimio-One Kenya leader Raila Odinga to show statesmanship, stop their hardline stance for the sake of the country and bring to an end the violence that has left the country on tenterhooks.

“Some criminals are now taking advantage of the situation to harass and loot people`s property and if allowed to continue, this will bring the already ailing economy to its knees,” Abubakar said.

Speaking to the media in Naivasha on Friday after a meeting, the civil society leaders said they were deeply concerned about the security situation of the country emanating from the prevailing economic situation and the ongoing political sparring.

“We acknowledge the right of citizens to express their grievances through constitutional means; however, we highly condemn the escalating violence emanating from the acts of protesters and use of force by authorities during the demonstrations,” they said.

They noted that the hardline stance taken by the political leaders, the violent nature of the demonstrations, notably the actions of criminals and organised criminal gangs, as well as use of force by security organs, are threatening the peace and security of the country.

“In fact, we are worried that the actions of criminal gangs who are now taking advantage of the current situation are risking the lives of innocent Kenyans. The same gangs are obstructing the Nation from resolving deep-seated grievances being expressed by the youth, such as joblessness, that need urgent attention.”

The leaders stated that in the last few weeks, lives have been lost, property destroyed and innocent Kenyans subjected to untold suffering. They added that such loss of property and lives is tragic and unacceptable, and no one should be deprived of life or cause another to lose it.

“Consequently, we call for the cessation of hostilities and for dialogue in the Nation. As peace actors, we are cognizant of the fact that only dialogue between the political leaders and the citizens is the most promising path to solving the current political impasse` in the country and call upon them to embrace dialogue as an avenue towards a peaceful, constructive, and acceptable solution to the current crisis,” Abubakar said.

On Wednesday, several lives were lost and properties worth billions of shillings were destroyed around the country. Schools and businesses were affected as Azimio-One Kenya mobilised Kenyans to go on the streets for three consecutive days to protest against the high cost of living.

Unconfirmed reports also indicate that about six people died in the demos around the country this week, with Azimio blaming police for shooting at innocent, unarmed demonstrators. Several other people died in demonstrations last week as key installations, such as the Motorway Highway, were vandalised.

Others present at the presser included representatives of the Integrated Development Programme (MID-P), Hassan Wako Wario, Ahmed Mohamed (Chairman, Board of Directors, PACT Kenya), and Elli Opondo (official of the Champions of Peace), among others.

By Mabel Keya-Shikuku

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