Kenya: Azimio to Hold Prayers for Police Brutality Victims as Odinga Issues Tough Demands for Talks

Azimio coalition will hold interdenominational prayers on Friday for victims of police brutality during anti-government protests that rocked various parts of the country last week.

The announcement was made Wednesday by the coalition whose principals visited victims at the Mama Lucy Hospital, Mbagathi and Kenyatta National Hospitals (KNH).

“We will be praying for all the people who were killed or injured in the worst police brutality witnessed in our country,” said Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka who read out a statement at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation (JOOF) in Nairobi.

Kalonzo and Azimio leaders, led by Raila Odinga convened at the foundation offices in Upper Hill after the hospital visits to light candles in commemoration of the departed souls even as President William Ruto announced his readiness to meet Odinga for talks.

But Odinga has made it clear he can only meet the president for talks if there is a mediator.

“He (Ruto) is not somebody you can trust, he keeps changing words that is why I insist there must be a mediator between us,” the veteran opposition leader said in response to Ruto’s offer to meet with him.

The Azimio-led coalition insists more than 50 people were killed during the protests held on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week to force President William Ruto’s government to bring down the cost of living.

The protests mobilised by Odinga were particularly pushing for the withdrawal of the Finance Act that spells out new tax measures the coalition says is too high for Kenyans.

No official records have been provided by the government on the exact number of people killed or injured in the protests, even though Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo confirmed a police officer was killed and property of unknown value destroyed-including police stations torched by protesters.

The coalition has now vowed it will not relent in seeking justice for victims, saying it will even petition The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).

On Wednesday, vigils were held in Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Homa Bay, Siaya and other towns which suffered the wrath of the police sent to quell the riots.

The vigils were led by Governors, MPs, Senators, and other local leaders as Odinga oversaw the main activities in Nairobi where they visited hospitals with no restrictions by police.

Others who attended the Nairobi event at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation include former Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Kilifi Senator Stewart Maddzayo, and Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna among others.

Wamalwa gave a blow-by-blow account of how the victims, including children, were shot, painting a grim picture of the situation that puts the police in a tight spot.

“It is something Kenyans will never forget,” Wamalwa said, blaming the police “We have visited victims in hospital some shot in the head, stomach, and other parts of the body.”

He cited the case of a Form Four student, a 19-year-old boy, Fidel Castro Ochieng’ from Kisumu county who was shot ten times.

He survived but 9 bullets are still lodged in his body.

Odinga has accused the government of being insensitive to the plight of Kenyans, saying he was surprised that the president has not condemned the atrocities committed by the police.