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Kenya’s police chief should resign over loss of protesters’ lives — Ex-Nigerian Envoy, Joe Keshi

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Kenya’s police chief should resign over loss of protesters’ lives — Ex-Nigerian Envoy, Joe Keshi

A protester shouts as he tries to advance towards the police during a demonstration in Nairobi, on June 25, 2024. – Kenyan police fired tear gas at crowds of young protesters in the capital Nairobi on Tuesday, as demonstrators rallied across the country against the government’s proposed tax increases. The demonstrations, led mainly by Generation Z, which began last week, took President William Ruto’s government by surprise, and he said over the weekend that he was ready to talk to the protesters, according to AFP reporters. (Photo by SIMON MAINA / AFP)

By Miftaudeen Raji

A former Nigerian Ambassador, Joe Keshi said the Kenya Chief of police should resign over the loss of protesters lives in the week-long protest in the country over the finance bill.

Keshi stated this while speaking in an interview with Arise Television on Thursday.

Reacting to the police response to the protests, Keshi said, “If the leadership of the police wants to help the president and the country, then the police chief in Kenya should honourably resign because of the loss of lives.

“Police in this part of the world have not learned how to manage demonstrations. Their first reaction is to match force with force. No matter what has happened, they will repeat it. They have never cared. The police’s first obligation is to protect the people in power.”

The former Diplomat said there is the need for better training for law enforcement in managing protests.

He said, “A point we have to learn throughout the continent of Africa is we need to convince the police and the military on how to manage crises like this.

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“This is not the first country where you have people killed because they are demonstrating in support of their rights. It’s a democracy and they have the right.

“There are better ways they can handle the situation rather than just opening fire and killing people. The guns they are using were purchased by the people,” he said.

Keshi noted that “it’s not enough reason to justify what has happened. The police always use that crazy excuse.”

He expressed worry over the handling of the protests, as he said government must be proactive with effective communication and crisis management.

He said, “When I listened to the president yesterday, it was clear that Kenya needed resources to execute some of the things that the president said he wants to do. I think the major problem was poor communication to start with.

“The people were not properly educated or informed of these resources. If the President had taken time to do what he wants to do now, perhaps the riot wouldn’t have taken place.”

Keshi advised Kenyan President William Ruto to engage in more proactive communication and dialogue.

He said, “My advice is for the president to move with military precision and begin the dialogue which should have taken place first. One major national broadcast will not solve the problem; he needs to reach out more to the people and win them over. He also needs to take more actions, maybe against the police leadership,” Keshi said.

Keshi also drew parallels to Nigeria, urging Nigerian leaders to learn from Kenya’s situation.

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He said, “Communication is something leaders must learn to do. They must not treat the people anyhow. It’s a lesson to our country because there are many similar issues going on in Nigeria.

“I hope our leaders and members of the national assembly are taking a cue so when they are approving a couple of things, they should bear this in mind. It gets to a place where the people say enough is enough, and someday in this country, people will get to that stage if we don’t manage our own crisis as well,” he warned.

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