, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 21- The Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli has condemned the brutality by the police during CORD protests demanding the resignation of electoral commission officials.
Speaking at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting in Kisumu where he was elected for a fourth term, Atwoli said the police must respect human rights while engaging protesters, particularly now that the country is headed to an election year.
“And particularly when one surrenders, lifts his hands up saying please leave me alone and you continue beating the same person very primitively in the eyes of both local and international cameras is unacceptable.”
He said the opposition has a constitutional right to demonstrate.
“I am an international labour leader, I don’t want to be questioned by my colleagues on what is happening in Kenya. We need to have peaceful demonstrations in this country,” he stated.
He however, commended the Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery for making the country safe in the recent past.
“We are the only organization which has stood with our police officers for the good work they have done in protecting the citizens of this country,” he added.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has also condemned cases of police brutality witnessed during Monday’s protest by the opposition.
“It is just responsible for all people to uphold the constitution and to take responsibility; the gravity of police brutality meted out on some demonstrators was totally appalling and unacceptable,” KNCHR Chairperson Kagwira Mbogori said.
CORD leader Raila Odinga has urged his supporters to continue staging protests in Nairobi and other parts of the country until IEBC commissioners vacate office.
But the chairman of the commission Isaack Hassan has insisted they can only leave office if the opposition and anyone else agitating for their removal follow the law—a stand supported by President Uhuru Kenyatta who has told the leaders to respect the constitution.
“I took an oath to defend the Constitution and will not break the law nor allow others to do so. We cannot agree to do that which is against the law and our Constitution just to please a few individuals,” President Kenyatta said.
CORD is set to resume the demonstrations against the IEBC on Monday even after the latest protest turned chaotic with dozens of people being injured or arrested.