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Kenya: President Kenyatta Faces Petition, Protests Over New Covid-19 Rules

Two civil society groups have threatened to petition Parliament to impeach President Uhuru Kenyatta over the new Covid-19 protocols issued last Friday.

The lobby groups – Bunge La Mwananchi and Concerned Citizens Alliance (CCA) – hit out at the President and politicians, accusing them of punishing innocent Kenyans yet are the “super spreaders” of the deadly virus.

They accused the political class of betraying their constituents, “now left to suffer on their own in silence”, following the issuing of tougher restrictions.

The groups have given President Kenyatta three days to reverse the new regulations, failure of which they will hit the streets in protests on Saturday.

Bunge La Mwananchi President, Mr John Mark Ababu, said the politicians are only concerned about forming new alliances ahead of the 2022 General Election yet the people they expect to vote for them are suffering.

“We are tired of your leadership, Mr President, and want you to reverse the new regulations, failure of which we will petition the National Assembly, once it resumes its sittings, to have you impeached and be the first President to suffer such a fate,” said Mr Ababu.

He accused the government of selfishness, noting that a partial lockdown was imposed after officials ensured the passage of the BBI constitutional amendment Bill.

“Mr President, you were the first person to host hundreds of people in Sagana and hold several rallies. You also let your deputy do the same. Why are you now punishing innocent Kenyans for your sins?”

“Cash cow”

Mr Ababu further said the government has turned the pandemic into a cash cow for the who-is-who in the country, while embarking on a borrowing spree, only for the money to be misappropriated as exemplified by the Kemsa scandal.

“Why are you punishing Kenyans for the ineptitude and incompetence of your government? You cannot impose curfews and lockdowns without putting in place measures to cushion Kenyans against the effects of such measures,” he said.

CCA boss Lawi Oyugi wondered why it was easier for the government to collect a million signatures for the BBI within a week than to test one million Kenyans for Covid-19 in the same period.

He said that instead of locking down the five counties as well as increasing the curfew hours, the President should use the Sh2 billion he says is lost daily to purchase vaccines for the public.

“We know Covid-19 is among us but some of the restrictions will hit the common mwananchi hard, as these are people who depend on small scale trade to put food on the table,” he said.

“Not everyone in this country is rich. You have closed bars and only allowed restaurants to give takeaways. Where will the workers in the respective areas go?”

Matakwei Mobimba vowed to rally Kenyans to punish politicians who are not representing them sufficiently, come the next election.

“Raila Odinga, you have always been the voice of the voiceless in the society. Why the silence now?”

CCA Secretary-General George Bush said this is the time for Kenyans to say ‘enough is enough’ and stand up against the government’s excesses.

“We have nowhere to get food or money for rent yet the virus was [spread] by the political class who were allowed to roam freely, holding rallies everywhere and traveling into and out of the country.”

“Life above all else”

President Kenyatta locked down Nairobi, Kajiado, Kiambu, Nakuru and Machakos counties, declaring them disease infested, in his second address this year on the Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya.

He also banned in-person gatherings in the five counties and revised their curfew hours to 8pm-4am, as the rest of the country remains with the 10pm-4am schedule.

Although the President acknowledged that the new measures will have adverse effects on the economy and constrain “our usual way of life”, he said they are temporary and necessary to contain the spread of the disease and stop further loss of lives.

“I am convinced that the cost of not acting now would be far greater,” the President noted.

“In moments like this, as a caring government, it is our solemn duty and cardinal responsibility to protect life above all else. One life lost is one too many. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have succumbed to this disease,” he said.

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