Running battles, teargas & arrests: How Azimio’s anti-gov’t protests went down in Nairobi (PHOTOS)

Monday, March 20th, 2023 21:35 | By
Running battles, teargas & arrests: How Azimio's anti-gov't protests went down in Nairobi (PHOTOS)
Azimio supporters lit bonfires in battle with police in Nairobi CBD. PHOTO/PD

Opposition supremo Raila Odinga on Monday, March 20, made good his threat to lead anti-government protests in Nairobi to push for electoral and economic reforms in the country.

Thousands of Azimio la Umoja - One Kenya coalition supporters stormed the streets of Nairobi as early as 7:00 am to protest against the high cost of living that has seen prices of basic commodities hit the roof.

Azimio supporters march in Nairobi CBD.

Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi, dominated the headlines for the better part of the day as hundreds of youth lit bonfires using old vehicle tyres as they engaged police in running battles to express their frustrations over the state of the economy.

The security teams were forced to clear tyres left by the roadside in Ayani to allow a smooth flow of traffic.

As the day progressed, the youth proceeded to Nairobi's Central Business District (CBD), where the demonstrations had started to gather pace, in anticipation of Azimio leaders' entourage to the City centre for the day-long protests. Most businesses in the CBD remained closed over security concerns.

Police clear a blocked road in Nairobi CBD.

Battle with police

Chaos erupted as the protesters came face to face with a contingent of anti-riot police officers deployed to quell the demonstrations.

Defiant Azimio supporters lit bonfires on several streets as they engaged the officers in running battles across the CBD.

Irate residents lit bonfires in Nairobi CBD.

At some point, the rioters were captured on camera hurling stones at the officers who in retaliation lobbed teargas canisters at the groups in a bid to disperse them. A female student who was heading to school was caught in the melee and collapsed. She was given first aid by members of the public and carried to safety.

A female student who was heading to school was caught in the melee and collapsed. She was given first aid by members of the public and carried to safety.

At around 10:00 am, several Azimio supporters were rounded up and arrested at City Hall and Supreme Court and bundled into a police vehicle for engaging in what the police say were unlawful protests.

About an hour later, several Azimio leaders including Senate Minority Leader Stewart Madzayo and his National Assembly counterpart Opiyo Wandayi and Kilifi South MP Richard Chonga were also arrested while leading protests outside the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).

One of the Azimio supporters arrested on Monday, March 20, 2023.

Later in the afternoon at around 3:00 pm, the motorcade of Raila and other Azimio leaders including Martha Karua and Kalonzo Musyoka was blocked from accessing Nairobi CBD from Serena Hotel.

The police, who had just disrupted Azimio's press conference, teargassed Raila's entourage as he left Serena Hotel for the City centre. His procession was also repelled with water cannons.

Bonfires lit in Nairobi CBD

Raila's motorcade was forced to attempt an alternative route to access the Nairobi CBD after the officers blocked access via Kenyatta Avenue.

Later, the entourage made its way to several parts of the city including Kamukunji grounds, Eastleigh and Mathare where the Azimio leaders addressed roadside rallies.

Raila condemned the police action against his supporters and declared weekly protests every Monday going forward until the opposition's demands are met.

Arrested youths bundled into a police lorry.

The opposition leader was unable to lead his troops to State House where he hoped to deliver a petition containing Azimio's grievances to President William Ruto.

Raila had indicated yesterday that the protests were also aimed at reclaiming his victory in the 2022 August poll, which he claims was rigged in favour of President Ruto.

"Let us all converge in the CBD and begin our grand March to State House to reclaim our stolen victory,” Raila said.

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