AU appeals for calm as opposition protests threaten regional trade
CONCERN: A week since Kenya’s opposition started weekly protests to resist President William Ruto’s administration, the heat has spread to parts of the East African region, particularly those that depend on imports from Kenya.
And with Thursday demonstrations fast approaching, the Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition, under the orders of Raila Odinga, plans to rally supporters to protest against the high cost of living, joblessness, and alleged electoral theft.
The protests have not only hobbled the country’s economy but also shown early signs that they pose the potential threat to exacerbate intra-regional disarray in mutual trade and huge economic costs.
Observers say that the continued lack of a truce between the feuding camps could as well result in a possible tumble of markets.
“We urge all stakeholders to exercise calm and engage in dialogue to address any differences that may exist in the supreme interest of national unity and reconciliation,” cautioned the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki in a statement yesterday.
The uncertainty surrounding future anti-government protests in Kenya is that they could damage business investment and trading relationships with the East African (EAC) bloc and partner members like Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo – DR Congo stands to lose big.
Both Uganda and the mineral-rich country of DR Congo, the latter of which joined the bloc last year, are landlocked and massively rely on their neighbour Kenya for economic survival for imports and export through the port of Mombasa.
Some of the key exports to the Felix Tshisekedi – led the country, for instance, are animal and vegetable fats and oils, pharmaceutical products, tobacco, iron and steel, leather and footwear, vegetables, fruits, nuts, plastics as well as paper and paperboard among others which are mainly transported by road. Kenya is also Uganda’s main supply route for essential goods including fuel to DR Congo and other markets like Burundi and South Sudan.