Kenya dispatch: authorities shuffle security and close schools in major cities ahead of planned anti-government demonstrations Dispatches
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Kenya dispatch: authorities shuffle security and close schools in major cities ahead of planned anti-government demonstrations

Aynsley Genga is a JURIST Senior Correspondent in Kenya. She files this dispatch from Nairobi.  

Major public demonstrations against the Kenyan government and its handling of tax increases and the cost of living crisis are set to take place in Kenya from Wednesday to Friday this week. The demonstrations have been on the mind of everyone this week. Some people have even gone and taken work leave, since they know they are basically free for the entirety of the week. Since the Azimio Party (Kenya’s opposition party) announced the demonstrations last week, the government as well as their supporters have been making threats at the party as well as their supporters. Videos of supporters of Kenya Kwanza (the ruling party) providing weapons to thugs to aid them in their goal of preventing the demonstrations have also gone viral online. The government has even withdrawn the security of some Azimio principals as well as some of their members of parliament (MPs). On Tuesday, Mama Ngina’s ( the wife of the late first president of Kenya) security was withdrawn without her being informed, and there are even rumors going around that the government has also withdrawn the security that was guarding the Jomo Kenyatta (the first president of Kenya) Mausoleum. Mama Ngina’s security was withdrawn since the government suspects that Uhuru Kenyatta (the previous president of Kenya) is funding the demonstrations.

As it stands,  people have been advised to work from home if possible. Kenya Railways has suspended commuter train service into Nairobi on Wednesday. Additionally, the government has closed off all-day primary and secondary schools within Nairobi and Mombasa and there’s word going around that schools in Kisumu had been closed on Monday. Tuesday evening, supermarkets were fully packed since many are doing last-minute shopping, fearing that things might go south.

There’s a lot of panic amongst the general public and the fact that rumors have been going around that the government might be establishing a new task force that is not afraid to use violence on protestors has further caused worry amongst a good number of the public. Another issue of concern that has slowly been gaining attention throughout the day relates to a video of Busia County locals stopping the passage of a lorry suspected to be carrying weapons from Uganda. According to the video the locals are demanding for the lorry to be opened and for the details concerning the lorry to be released to the public. The locals could be seen asking, “why was the lorry been guarded by men from Uganda? Why was the mysterious lorry trying to sneak in at 2 in the morning? Why has the driver of the car run away and why are there no clearing documents in regards to the lorry?” According to the locals, they discovered the lorry after receiving word that two other similar lorries had already snuck into the country using similar means. As of yet, there is no official word from the government regarding whether the lorry has been released, but the fact that the lorry exists as well as the video of it has led to some people expressing their concern online especially since it was discovered during the day and there is still no word from the government.

At this point in time, it is quite difficult to know which information is true or false. Even as I write this dispatch already word is already streaming in that some Azimio officials might have been detained. Too much is happening, but one thing remains constant in the hearts of many Kenyans and it is the hope that all will be well and that no unnecessary bloodshed or harm will take place in the upcoming days.