National Super Alliance (NASA) presidential candidate Raila Odinga has made a passionate appeal to his supporters to reject violence and ensure property is not destroyed during the anti-IEBC demonstrations.
Mr Odinga said it was wrong to light bonfires on roads and disrupt public transport and other essential service in the push for reforms at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The NASA candidate spoke a day after a group of youths broke away from those demonstrating in Kisumu town and looted Tumaini Supermarket on Friday.
Some of the looters were seriously injured by private guards hired to protect the store. There have been ugly incidents of violence in Kisumu and the neigbouring towns of Siaya, Homa Bay, Bondo and Migori during public demonstrations.
If it is not police shooting at demonstrators, it is hooligans disguised as Opposition supporters breaking into shops and blocking roads. On Friday, a boda boda taxi operator was shot and wounded by police after anti-IEBC protest turned violent in Homa Bay.
The police also fired tear gas as Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti led hundreds of demonstrators in the town. The governor condemned the police for provoking demonstrators through use of brutal force. Speaking on a video link to a group of church leaders at the St Stephen’s ACK Kisumu on Saturday, Raila said the demonstrations must continue until NASA’s demands are met.
The Opposition has been holding protests to push for changes in the IEBC that it believes will level the playing ground in the repeat presidential election. While recognising the fundamental rights of Kenyans to picket, the Opposition chief clarified that the right to do so does not extend to looting and destroying property.
”I beseech our people with all kindness and humility to desist from acts of hooliganism that may undermine the tenets of democracy that we are fighting for,” Raila asserted.
He asked the clerics to spread the gospel of peaceful demonstrations across Nyanza, especially where there have been violent confrontations with the police.
”I appeal to church leaders to help us nurture the young generation and bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord, without putting them to wrath,” he said ”
When I was minister for Roads I influenced the tarmacking of the major highways in the town and it would defy logic for our children to light bonfires on them,” he said.
Repeating the message to the congregation during inter-denominational prayers over Raila’s presidential bid, the clergy called for peaceful protests.
“Raila has reminded me to tell all his supporters who love him and want change in this country that they should not destroy property during demonstrations,” Bishop Abiero said.
Archbishop Dr Washington Ogonyo Ngede of the Power of Jesus Christ Around the World, Winnie Owiti of Voice of Salvation and Prophet Joseph Ogutu led the congregation in prayers.
“Prayer is so powerful that it can change the conditions of our heart. Let our diverse mass prayers, for God’s guidance and wisdom give Raila and his deputy Kalonzo Musyoka direction and strengthen them in their quest for the top leadership,’’ said Abiero.
Leaders Rosa Buyu, Nominated MP Prof Jackline Oduol, Senator Fred Outa, Deputy Governor Dr Mathews Owili and County Secretary Dr Olango Onudi attended the prayers.