Four Kenyan lawmakers charged over anti-Ruto protests
By Humphrey Malalo
NAIROBI (Reuters) -Four Kenyan members of parliament were charged on Thursday with unlawful assembly for taking part this week in protests against President William Ruto’s government over the high cost of living, their lawyer said.
One person was killed and more than 200 were arrested during Monday’s nationwide demonstrations called by opposition leader Raila Odinga.
The lawmakers, who included the leaders of Odinga’s faction in both houses of parliament, were arrested and then released on bail, after being charged in a Nairobi court, their lawyer Danstan Omari said.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, Odinga demanded their release. He also warned that threats by Kenya’s communications regulator to revoke the licenses of six TV stations over coverage of the demonstrations amounted to censorship.
On Monday the stations carried live footage for several hours including images of police firing tear gas and water cannons at Odinga’s convoy.
“The coverage depicted scenes that could cause panic or incitement to the public, threatening peace and cohesion in the country,” the Communications Authority of Kenya said in a statement late on Wednesday.
It added that failure by broadcasters to adhere to legal obligations could lead to revocation of their license or frequency.
Odinga, 78, has called for twice-weekly protests against the government, citing the high cost of staples such as maize flour, which has kept inflation high.
He also accuses Ruto of cheating in last year’s presidential election, the fifth in a row in which Odinga finished runner-up. Odinga unsuccessfully challenged the result last year before the Supreme Court.
(Reporting by Humphrey MalaloWriting by Hereward HollandEditing by James Macharia Chege and Frances Kerry)