DEMONSTRATORS

Tear gas wasn't needed for Uhuru Park demo

It is not clear why the police cracked down so hard.

In Summary

• Only 50 people attended the anti-corruption demo.

• New Police boss should try a softly-softly approach.

A file photo of police officers at Uhuru Park in Nairobi.
A file photo of police officers at Uhuru Park in Nairobi.

Yesterday police used tear gas to disperse around 50 anti-corruption demonstrators in Uhuru Park. Was that necessary? How much harm were they doing?

It is not clear why the police cracked down so hard. They wanted to march to the Office of the President to deliver their recommendations on ending corruption. Maybe that would have disrupted traffic.

They also paraded a poster combining half of President Uhuru Kenyatta's face and half of Deputy President William Ruto's face. Was that so offensive?

The demonstrators had called for a million people to demonstrate against corruption but only a few dozen turned up. This was a damp squib, a firework that failed to explode.

The police should have physically blocked the demonstrators from marching into the CBD. They did not need to use tear gas.

A new Inspector General of Police, Hilary Mutyambai, was appointed last month. Hopefully, this is not a sign that he intends to employ a heavy hand when dealing with demonstrations and civil society. A softly-softly approach is more effective in maintaining law and order than repression and force.

Quote of the day: "Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play."

Joseph Goebbels
The Nazi propaganda chief committed suicide on  May 1, 1944