‘Don’t attend Azimio demos, go to work’ – Atwoli tells workers

Monday, May 1st, 2023 15:06 | By
COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli
COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli. PHOTO/Courtesy
The Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli has urged Kenyans to shun Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition party anti-government protests on Tuesday, and instead go to work. Atwoli, a former political ally of Azimio leader Raila Odinga and former President Uhuru Kenyatta, says that the demonstrations will not change the status quo. Instead, he has called on the supremos to shun political battles and engage in dialogue for peace to prevail and create a conducive working environment. "Workers, please go to work on Tuesday, or you may be sacked because you went to protest. We must grow the economy and employ all those looking for jobs," Atwoli said. "Workers, please go to work on Tuesday, or you may be sacked because you went to protest. We must grow the economy and employ all those looking for jobs."

Atwoli to Ruto

Atwoli has also called on President William Ruto to reach out to the opposition and have a dialogue that will end the political impasse in the country. "Your Excellency, go beyond where you are. Make sure you reach out to any of your political enemies to make sure that this country remains stable and we avoid this issue of maandamano," he said. Azimio, led by Raila Odinga are set to take to the streets on Tuesday, May 2 to protest against the government with several demands, among them lowering the cost of living. Azimio is planning to present a petition to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) showing that the election results were doctored and demand an audit of the servers. Azimio will also petition the IEBC against the sacking of four commissioners, which they claim was a dangerous precedent in which in all future elections, all commissioners would be required to agree with the chairperson of IEBC, effectively making election a one person show. The coalition also plans to present a petition to the Office of the President proving that the cost of food, fuel, electricity and fees remain unacceptably high. On Monday, May 1, 2023, the National police service declared the planned demos as illegal, citing previous incidents of criminal acts during protests by the opposition outfit. In a statement, Deputy Inspector General of Police Noor Gabow said that previous demos by Azimio had trends of criminal incidents including destruction of property, arson, robbery, looting, injuries to officers, and even the death of a police officer. "Evidently, recent Azimio—One Kenya Alliance protests have been symptomatic of unacceptable trend of criminal incidents including wanton destruction of property, arson, robbery, looting, injuries to Officers, and even death of a Police Officer, a phenomenon that should not continue." According to Gabow, the demos will not be allowed "in the interest of national security". "In the interest of national security, we wish to notify the public that the planned demonstration or assembly is unlawful and affirm our earlier unequivocal staternents condemning violent protests and the public attacks on Law Enforcement Officers on duty. Since the beginning of Azimio protests last year, our Officers have responded with utmost restraint despite the provocation by the illegal protestors again. Police. We wish to reiterate our responsibility to maintain law and order; and enforce the law without fear or favor, strictly complying with the rule of law and respect for human rights," he added. Raila has however held that the demonstrations will still be held amid what he terms as assassination threats by the government.

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