Peaceful protests over rising cost of living

April 19, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 19 – Members of the civil society on Tuesday led demonstrations in Nairobi and Mombasa to protest the spiralling price of fuel and rising cost of living.

During the protests held in Nairobi, bad governance was highlighted as the major cause of the high cost of basic commodities that is currently being experienced in the country.

Activist Okiya Omtatah said that politicians needed to take the lead in fighting for Kenyans\’ basic rights.

"We are here to start to plant the mustard seed of what is going to grow into a major reform movement by the time we get to elections in 2012," he said. "This is about how this country is governed. We are here because of the current crop of leaders."

He stated that should the status quo remain, then the public would be mobilised to vote out the current leaders.

"The disease is bad governance and the cure is a new order in 2012 and that is why we are going to march. We are marching to the offices of the Prime Minister, President and the Energy Minister to declare vacancies there," he declared.

Muslim leaders also issued a statement on Tuesday, expressing deep concern over the rising cost of living.  Read the statement here.

The National Civil Society Congress President Morris Odhiambo said that the tax reprieve on kerosene and diesel announced by Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday would have little impact on the situation.

He now wants the taxes reduced further and petrol levy also lowered.

"This increase in the prices of basic goods is as a result of people sitting somewhere and misappropriating public funds," he said.

Politician Paul Muite pointed out the need for the government to ensure that every Kenyan gets the basic necessities of life. Mr Muite said that doing this would improve the lives of Kenyans and ensure they do not suffer as a result of external fluctuations of fuel cost.

"Every Kenyan is entitled to live a minimum quality of life in terms of house, water, security and schooling," he said. "When Kenyans decide that enough is enough, change will come into the country."

Meanwhile, The Consumer Federation of Kenya\’s Secretary General Stephen Mutoro urged the government to move with speed in addressing the rising cost of living.

"There are so many austerity measures that the government – if it were committed – could do to address with or without the international high cost of crude oil prices," he said. "All we are asking for is what is it we can change within the Kenyan boundaries?"

He stated that the civil society would continue with the demonstrations until their demands are met.

"If we are unable to get what we are looking for by the end of the day today, these demonstrations are going to be continuous," he stressed.

In Mombasa, over 20 civil societies in Coast Province led hundreds of residents in similar street demonstrations.

The protesters, who marched from Uhuru Gardens to the local District Commissioner\’s offices at Treasury Square, demanded that the government controls prices of essential commodities.

Carrying plastic plates and cooking pots, the protesters caused a major traffic snarl up along both the busy Digo road and Moi Avenue.

Their efforts to seek audience with DC Abdi Mohamed Hussein were thwarted by Administration police who denied them access to his office.

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