News / Africa

Kenya Opposition Rallies for Political Change, Dialogue

  • Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula wave during a rally at Uhuru Park in Nairobi, July 7, 2014.
  • A supporter of Kenya's opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy bleeds from a head injury while engaging with riot police before the "Saba Saba Day" rally at the Uhuru park grounds in Nairobi, July 7, 2014.
  • Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga addresses the crowd during a rally at Uhuru Park in Nairobi, July 7, 2014.
  • Supporters of Kenya's opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy arrive singing slogans at the venue for their "Saba Saba Day" rally demanding dialogue with the government, at the Uhuru park grounds in Nairobi, July 7, 2014.
  • Supporters of Kenya's opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy run along the streets before their "Saba Saba Day" rally demanding dialogue with the government, at the Uhuru park grounds in Nairobi, July 7, 2014.
  • Riot police walk down the street after firing tear gas to disperse supporters of Kenya's opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy before their "Saba Saba Day" rally at the Uhuru park grounds in Nairobi, July 7, 2014.
Rally in Nairobi's Uhuru Park
Gabe Joselow

Kenya's opposition parties called for a national dialogue with the ruling administration and issued a list of key demands at a rally Monday in the capital.  The event turned momentarily violent as police fired tear gas to quell rowdy protesters.

Thousands came out to Nairobi's Uhuru Park for the so-called Saba Saba day rally, organized by supporters of former prime minister and opposition mainstay Raila Odinga, who lost to President Uhuru Kenyatta in a disputed election last year.

A heavy deployment of security forces from the army, police and national youth service kept watch over the events. Police fired tear gas earlier in the day to disperse stone-throwing protesters at the entrance to the park.

Speaking to the crowd in Swahili, Odinga called for the ruling Jubilee administration to sit down for talks to work through some of the many challenges facing the nation.

“Where there is a will, there is a way,” Odinga said, “and what we want today is a national dialogue.”

Members of the opposition CORD coalition read a list of demands for the government, including "immediate steps” to withdraw Kenyan troops from Somalia, where they are battling al-Shabab militants as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission.

Opposition grievances

Demonstrators used the event to vent frustrations with the country's current leadership and the state of national security.

Odinga-supporter Moses Onyango came to the rally from the North Mathare neighborhood of Nairobi. He says the opposition feels sidelined by the current government.

“[The] most important issue first and foremost is security," Onyango said. "There is insecurity in this country. There is what we call tribalism, we want to eradicate totally. And thirdly, the most important, is unemployment.”

The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) coalition of opposition parties is calling for a national dialogue with the ruling “Jubilee” coalition to discuss challenges facing Kenya.

Last week, Deputy President William Ruto accused CORD of seeking to divide the country.

Other Jubilee members have said the opposition should save their grievances for parliament.

Supporters of Kenya's opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) run after riot police fired tear gas before their Supporters of Kenya's opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) run after riot police fired tear gas before their "Saba Saba Day" rally at the Uhuru park grounds in the capital Nairobi, July 7, 2014.
x
Supporters of Kenya's opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) run after riot police fired tear gas before their
Supporters of Kenya's opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) run after riot police fired tear gas before their "Saba Saba Day" rally at the Uhuru park grounds in the capital Nairobi, July 7, 2014.

Worsening crime and insecurity is among the biggest concerns listed by CORD supporters.

Kenya's coast has been especially hard hit by recent terrorist attacks for which the Somalia-based militant group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility.

In an attack that started late Saturday night, gunmen killed at least 21 people in two areas near the coast.

Last month about 60 people were killed in a major assault on the town of Mpeketoni.

Kenyatta has said the Mpeketoni attack was politically motivated, despite the claim of responsibility from al-Shabab.

Dialogue necessary

Many Kenyans stayed home Monday, out of fear the Saba Saba day rally could raise tensions.

Some small skirmishes between security forces and protesters erupted before and after the rally.  Police used tear gas and fired rounds into the air to disperse rowdy youths who ran through the nearly deserted streets of downtown Nairobi, following the event.

John Njoroge, 21, who comes from the Kibera neighborhood of Nairobi, Odinga's former constituency, says dialogue is the only way to confront security challenges.

“We cannot sit and see ourselves being buried in the graves of poor leadership.  So we came here to stand up, be active and defend our nation," he said.

The Jubilee administration has rejected the call for dialogue with the opposition.

Last week, Deputy President William Ruto accused CORD of seeking to divide the country.  Other Jubilee members say the opposition should express their grievances in parliament.   

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More