Kenya dispatch: country on edge ahead of nationwide strike called for Monday by opposition leader Dispatches
© Citizen TV Kenya
Kenya dispatch: country on edge ahead of nationwide strike called for Monday by opposition leader

Aynsley Genga is a JURIST Staff Correspondent in Kenya.

Due to the current economic crisis facing Kenya at the moment, Raila Odinga, the leader of Azimio (Kenya’s opposition party) has declared that on Monday March 20th 2023, there will be a nationwide strike. He has even declared Monday a “national holiday”. Throughout the week there have been demonstrations in various parts of the country such as Kisumu, Mombasa, Nairobi and even in different parts of the Mount Kenya region, an area with supposedly few Raila supporters. Videos of citizens complaining about the high cost of living have gone viral on online platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Many Kenyans have started coming out to express their discontent about the manner in which the government is handling the inflation crisis.

Something that has garnered interest as the week has progressed is the realization that it is not only Kenya where a nationwide strike will be taking place on that very same Monday. The realization of the wave began when Julius Malema leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in South Africa, declared that there will be demonstrations on 20th March, and by Wednesday this week, countries such as Nigeria, Tunisia and Senegal had also joined in on the wave. It is quite interesting to note that the opposition parties of 5 different African countries facing different challenges have all decided to hold mass actions on the same day. Such an incident is unheard of and has therefore left people wondering if the opposition leaders had planned this or if it is simply a coincidence.

As it stands, we have Kenya and South Africa demonstrating against the current economic crisis facing both countries while in Nigeria we have people protesting against the country’s election results that were released a week ago. In Tunisia protests will be held to demand the removal of the authoritarian rule of President Kais Saied. In Senegal, citizens will be protesting in their capital, Dakar, in support of the aspiring presidential candidate, who faces a libel case set to resume this week. Moreover, the Senegalese citizens will be protesting against the running of President Macky Sall for a controversial third term despite many claiming that it is unconstitutional.

The news of the demonstrations has spread through Kenya like wildfire and reactions have varied depending on one’s political beliefs. We have those who are in support of the demonstration, there are those who are against it and believe that the demonstrations are waste of time while we also have those who do not really care whether the protests happen or not. Public figures such as President Ruto came out on Wednesday to condemn Raila for holding unlawful protests that will result in the destruction of lives and property or the paralyzation of business operations in the country. The Head of State insisted that he will not allow any attempt by Odinga to “blackmail” the country, urging him to liaise with police over the planned demonstrations.


Due to the serious nature of such an activity, many Azimio officials have been forced to lay low in fear of house arrest. However, ODM Director of Elections Philip Etale stated there is no need for concern since it does not matter if Azimio leaders are arrested because the protests will be led by Kenyans themselves. “Azimio leaders house arrests won’t work. The protests will be spearheaded by Kenyans and not the leaders,” he wrote on his verified Facebook account. “The leaders have done their part and the people will just turn out to defend their democracy and fight for their rights,” Etale further stated.

With everything that has been happening throughout the week, Raila has continued to carry out his rallies. Today, Thursday, he was in Nakuru where he was welcomed by a multitude of people. This was very surprising since Nakuru iss one of President Ruto’s strongholds.

The protests are in three days time, all we can do is hope that they will be peaceful and that no citizen will be harmed.