Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga to sue for “attempt on my life”

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has vowed to go to court over what he says was an attempt on his life before his latest anti-government protest.

He also denounced the point-blank firing of a tear gas canister against journalists as a “primitive act of intolerance.”

In an interview with the Associated Press on Friday, the 78-year-old presidential candidate spoke more about his grievances about last year’s election, a defeat upheld by Kenya’s top court, than about rising prices and other painful economic problems. that affect Kenyans.

Known for his leading role in the fight for multi-party democracy decades ago, Odinga warned on Friday against attempts by the government of President William Ruto to outlaw the current protests.

Guillermo Ruto
William Ruto (Britta Pedersen/dpa/AP)

“It is a violation of the fundamental right to demonstrate,” said Odinga, who vowed to continue the twice-weekly protests in the capital Nairobi and elsewhere that began last week and have been marked by violence at times.

He spoke before traveling to Kisumu, his stronghold in western Kenya, which has also been rocked by protests.

The independent Police Supervisory Authority has said it is investigating four incidents in which police have shot and killed protesters since the demonstrations began (Odinga said his party is still collecting a casualty toll) and private property belonging to the family. of former President Uhuru Kenyatta has been attacked.

Police Inspector General Japhet Koome said one officer was killed after protests on Thursday and 20 were seriously injured.

Diplomats, human rights groups and religious leaders have expressed alarm as many remember Kenya’s deadly 2007 post-election violence, and the African Union has called for dialogue.

Opposition protests in Kenya
Raila Odinga standing next to one of his vehicles which he says was hit by a tear gas canister (Brian Inganga/AP)

As images circulated on social media of a man firing tear gas at a vehicle and injuring journalists, the Kenyan Media Council called Thursday March “the darkest month for Kenyan media since the clamor for multi-party democracy.” ” in the 1980s.

Odinga said an attempt was made on his life on Thursday as he walked through Nairobi’s neighborhoods gathering thousands of residents. He showed the Associated Press dents in his armored vehicle that he said were left by bullets.

“We could hear gunshots and we thought they were shooting in the air, but we heard the car was hit multiple times,” he said.

“That’s when I decided to take cover and lie down on the seat. There is no doubt that the intent was basically to kill, an attempt on my life, which is unfortunate.

“So if this vehicle was not armored, the story would be different.”

Next to his official vehicle there were two escort cars with smashed rear windows. Inside the vehicles there was still a strong smell of tear gas.

Opposition protests in Kenya
Raila Odinga points to the broken rear window of one of his vehicles (Brian Inganga/AP)

Odinga said he has instructed his lawyers to go to court over the incident.

As the chaos unfolded, the Kenyan president was elsewhere in Nairobi promoting the country as a “regional investment destination” at a US Chamber of Commerce summit.

Ruto last commented on the protests on Tuesday during a visit to Europe, when he said Kenyans must obey the rule of law.

Odinga said he has not had contact with Ruto since the protests began. “We say that we are ready with the conditions for negotiations, but the other party is being dismissive, they are not listening,” he said.

Anti-government protests will continue on Monday and Thursday until the government listens to opposition demands on last year’s elections and on the economy, Odinga said.

“We are saying that the high cost of living is not something to be expected. Kenyans have suffered seriously, and we are saying the subsidies must be reinstated now,” he said, referring to the popular fuel and corn subsidies that the Ruto government ended.


Leave a Reply