The protesters burnt tyres and blocked a busy road linking the capital Nairobi with the busy port city of Mombasa.
Reports of wildlife straying into human habitats in Kenya have increased in recent years as the animals come under growing pressure with cities expanding into ancient migration and hunting grounds.
But the police force — under-equipped, badly paid and trained — also has a poor reputation in the East African country, often coming under scrutiny over the alleged use of excessive force and unlawful killings, especially in poor neighbourhoods.
Lenku described Thursday’s deaths as “unfortunate” and vowed a full investigation.
“These deaths could have been avoided with a little more understanding that the local communities are getting frustrated by the loss of human lives to wildlife,” he said in an earlier statement.
Kenya’s police watchdog, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), announced a probe into the deaths, saying it had dispatched a rapid response team to interview the survivors and seek ballistic examination reports.
“On completion of the investigations, where fault is found, the authority shall make recommendations, including but not limited to prosecution,” it said in a statement.
The IPOA was established by parliament in 2011 to provide civilian oversight of a powerful institution whose reputation also ranks among Kenya’s most corrupt.
But only a handful of officers have been convicted as a result of IPOA investigations, even though the body has examined more than 6,000 cases of police misconduct according to data covering the period from its inception to June 2020.
Activists largely defend IPOA’s track record, saying police frustrate the body’s inquiries by refusing to cooperate.
Kenyatta said the high cost of living was due to factors “beyond my control like the coronavirus pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict”.
He castigated rival political leaders — including Deputy President William Ruto — for seeking to blame the government for the economic woes, as the country prepares for crucial elections in August.
Kenyatta cannot run again after serving two terms but has endorsed his former arch-rival Raila Odinga for the top job.
The August 9 presidential election is expected to be a two-horse race between Odinga and Ruto, who was initially anointed by Kenyatta as his successor, but found himself frozen out after a shock 2018 pact between Kenyatta and Odinga.
Kenya’s finance minister last month unveiled a $28 billion budget aimed at helping the economy recover after the Covid-19 pandemic threw hundreds of thousands of people out of work.
Kenyans are struggling to cope with rising costs of basic goods such as food and fuel, a crisis exacerbated by the Ukraine war, while several parts of the country are also suffering from a severe drought.
Inflation reached a seven-month high of 6.47 percent last month from 5.56 percent in March and 5.76 percent in April last year, the statistics bureau announced last week.
Last month the country was also hit by a fuel shortage that triggered long queues at petrol stations and strict rationing.
President Muhammadu Buhari has extended his condolences to the Government and people of Kenya over the death of the country’s first opposition President, Mr. Mwai Kibaki.
Reacting to the death of the former President of the Republic of Kenya on Saturday, President Buhari said: “the late Kibaki had set a remarkable record of being the first opposition politician to end 40 years of one-party rule by being elected president in 2013.”
The President was quoted to have made the remarks in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu.
According to Buhari, “Kibaki had demonstrated that with patience and tenacity, a man can achieve his ultimate goal in life.”
“Someone else would have given up the struggle after a few years, but Kibaki had stayed the course and ended 40 years of one-party rule,” saying that “this is a record that we can’t forget and for which posterity and history would continue to remember the late Kenyan President,” President Buhari added.
Former Commonwealth and African 10,000m champion Joyce Chepkirui has been banned for four years for a doping violation, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) confirmed on Wednesday.
The 33-year-old was first provisionally suspended in July 2019 for a discrepancy in her Athlete Biological Passport (ABP).
Chepkirui, who won the 2014 Commonwealth 10,000m gold in Glasgow, had appealed her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) claiming the abnormalities in her ABP were due to medication and her diet.
Bruce Fein, the lawyer to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has petitioned the UN Security Council to investigate Nigeria and Kenya over the arrest and extradition of the secessionist.
Kanu, who was arrested in June last year in Kenya and brought to Nigeria after leaving the country in 2017, is in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS).
But in a petition co-signed by Kanu’s wife, Uche Kanu, dated April 9, 2022, and addressed to the UK ambassador to the UN, Barbara Woodward, the duo sought the council’s probe into the “criminal kidnapping, torture, extraordinary rendition” of Kanu.
“Dear President Woodward: We, the undersigned respectfully petition the United Nations Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, to pass a resolution establishing an international independent investigation Commission to establish criminal responsibility for Nnamdi Kanu’s kidnapping, torture, and extraordinary rendition from Nairobi, Kenya to Abuja, Nigeria on or about June 2021, and indefinite, ongoing, arbitrary detention in solitary confinement thereafter by the Federal Government of Nigeria,” the petition obtained by Channels Television read.
“The resolution should also establish a Special Tribunal to prosecute persons the Commission finds have been responsible for Nnamdi Kanu’s kidnapping, torture, extraordinary rendition, and arbitrary detention.
“Convincing evidence in the public domain, direct and circumstantial, implicate Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerian Attorney-General Abubakar Malami, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, among others, in the above-referenced crimes against Nnamdi Kanu. The governments of Nigeria and Kenya cannot be trusted to investigate or prosecute themselves.
“The universal legal principle that a person cannot be a judge in his own case applies here.
“We submit that Security Council Resolution 1595, which established an independent Commission to investigate the assassins of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Harari, and Security Council Resolution 1757, which established a Special Tribunal for the prosecution of the responsible parties found by the independent Commission, should be considered as templates for the corresponding resolutions we are requesting for investigation and prosecution of the crimes against Nnamdi Kanu by Nigerian and Kenyan government officials or their agents.
“We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you or your staff in person or over the internet to further elaborate on this petition.”
Kenya’s top court ruled Thursday that a controversial bid by President Uhuru Kenyatta to change the constitution was illegal, dealing a blow to him and his allies ahead of key elections in August.
But it left open the possibility for the reforms — popularly known as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) — to be submitted again by parliament or through other means, so long as the president did not have a hand in the changes.
“The president cannot initiate constitutional amendments or changes through popular initiative under article 257 of the constitution,” said six of the seven judges overseeing the case at the Supreme Court.
The reforms would have expanded the executive and increase the number of parliamentary seats in the biggest change to Kenya’s political system since the introduction of a new constitution in 2010.
The initiative has left the East African nation’s political elite divided.
Kenyatta had argued that the change would make politics more inclusive and help end repeated cycles of election violence.
Thursday’s decision came after the High Court and Court of Appeal ruled against the proposed amendments last year.
The appeals court even said Kenyatta could be sued in a civil court for launching the process.
But the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against this idea.
“Civil proceedings cannot be instituted in any court against the president or the person performing the functions of the office of the president during their tenure of office in respect of anything done or not done under the constitution,” it declared.
BBI’s detractors — including Kenyatta’s estranged deputy William Ruto — say it is a little more than a naked grab for power by a two-term president who cannot run a third time.
The timing of the reforms spurred speculation in recent years that Kenyatta was seeking to remain in power by establishing the post of prime minister as part of the BBI.
A dream deferred’
Ruto, 54, was initially anointed by Kenyatta as his successor, but found himself marginalised after a shock 2018 pact between the president and his former foe Raila Odinga, who have a long history of opposing each other at the ballot box.
The pair’s spirited pursuit of the BBI since 2018 sparked speculation that Kenyatta may assume the new position of prime minister in a power-sharing arrangement if Odinga, 77, wins the presidency.
Earlier this month, Kenyatta, 60, endorsed Odinga, who will compete with Ruto for the country’s top job.
Thursday’s session lasted over six hours, with each of the judges including Kenya’s first female chief justice, Martha Koome, reading out their respective decisions on the case.
Analysts say the decision will jolt political alignments among smaller parties, which are weighing their options ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections barely four months away.
Already, fresh alliances are being forged, with a view to dividing the spoils come election time.
Prior to the ruling, constitutional lawyer Charles Kanjama told AFP that a verdict which “rejects the proposals in part or in whole… will give further political capital to those who opposed the process.”
Although the ruling is likely to weaken the president’s hand ahead of the August polls, Kenyatta has previously vowed to see the constitutional changes instituted in his lifetime.
“Although it encountered some legal obstacles, I can only say that BBI is just a dream deferred,” Kenyatta said last December.
“One day, someday, it will happen, because the country cannot survive ethnic majoritarianism and exclusion, just as it cannot survive unfair and skewed representation. This is a design defect that we must fix,” he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari has returned to Nigeria from Kenya where he attended the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) at 50.
Buhari, who participated in the Special Session to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the United Nation body, had initially planned to proceed to London for a medical check-up but returned to Abuja this afternoon.
Sources at the presidency said that the president returns briefly and would head to London on Sunday, March 6 for his routine medical checks.
In Kenya, the president also met with the Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Mr Ibrahim Thiaw, in Nairobi where he among other things directed collaboration between the ministries of environment, water resources, agriculture, and rural development and power to combat desertification.
The Kenyan and Zimbabwean football federations were suspended by FIFA on Thursday due to government interference, the world governing body said.
“Without prejudice to investigations by national authorities or other judiciary bodies, the FIFA Council has decided to suspend the Kenya Football Federation and the Zimbabwe Football Federation with immediate effect for undue influence by a third party,” said a FIFA statement.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino later gave more details on the reasons for the suspensions, referring at a press conference to “government interference in the activities of the football federation”.
“They know what needs to be done for the suspension to be lifted,” he added.
The FIFA Council met briefly by videoconference on Thursday, without taking any major action on the project to reform the international calendar which could see a World Cup every two years, an idea promoted by FIFA but opposed by European and South American federations.
In his 15 years defending one of Nairobi’s last green spaces, Simon Nganga has seen off brazen attempts to seize what’s left of the lush forest bordered by highways and housing estates.
Persistent efforts by developers and powerful individuals to seize chunks of the bush as their own were defeated under historic laws enacted to protect Kenya’s dwindling forests from unchecked logging and environmental destruction.
But a proposal expected before parliament on Thursday seeks a major change to these protections, by allowing politicians to determine if public forest can be carved out and handed over to private interests.
Under the contentious amendment, anyone wishing to alter forest boundaries to claim ownership of land could lobby parliament directly, bypassing approval from the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), which is currently mandated to scrutinise such bids.
“If it goes through… that will open a Pandora’s Box,” Nganga told AFP beneath the canopy of Ngong Road Forest, a 1,224-hectare (3,025-acre) tract of indigenous woodland inhabited by bush bucks, Sykes monkeys and over 100 species of birds.
“Everyone will want a piece of the forest, which is very dangerous for our forests, and our future.”
The amendment to the Forest Conservation and Management Act –- reforms passed after decades of rampant land clearing — has been opposed by the environment ministry and the KFS, and has roused significant community anger.
It has also drawn rare criticism from the United Nations, which headquarters its environment programme in Nairobi, and is just weeks away from staging the world’s highest-level decision-making assembly on nature and biodiversity in the Kenyan capital.
– Environmentalists blindsided –
The amendment argues that granting KFS primary authority over hearing and ruling on changes to forest boundaries “unnecessarily limits the right of any person to petition Parliament” as granted under the constitution.
Environmentalists were blindsided by the proposal, which they say would shift power over Kenya’s forests from a dedicated government agency with a record of fighting land theft, to political elites trying to win a bitterly-contested election.
“Why do members of parliament want to condemn Kenya and the world to an unbearably hot future by weakening the Forest Act?” said conservation group Nature Kenya.
Nganga said the forest laws had proved a bulwark against encroachment — since first passing in 2005, no land within Ngong Road Forest had been legally hived off, keeping its boundary firmly intact.
It is a remarkable achievement for an urban forest pressed in on all sides by one of Africa’s fastest-growing cities, but it still bears the scars of battles won and lost.
A major highway slices through its interior, one unfenced side opens onto the vast Kibera slum, while forest doled out years ago to connected elites saw trees razed for apartments.
But it survived as a whole only because strong laws had kept land grabbers at bay, said Nganga, vice chairman of the Ngong Road Forest Association.
“It has been a success,” Nganga said at the forest edge overlooking Kibera, where men walked by carrying trees they had felled for firewood.
“We cannot talk about winding back success. We know what happened before the Act, when individuals could give out land. We don’t want to get back there.”
– ‘We’ll lose everything’ –
Parliament is considering the amendment as Nairobi this month prepares to host the UN Environment Assembly, where countries will be asked to commit to stronger protections for biodiversity.
In a letter to parliament, a top UN official in Nairobi warned the proposed changes threatened Kenya’s reputation and undermined its efforts to expand forest cover and tackle climate change.
“Unfortunately, we believe the proposed amendment takes us in a contrary direction, incompatible with Kenya’s laudable commitments and trajectory hitherto,” resident coordinator Stephen Jackson wrote in a February 1 letter seen by AFP.
Kenyan Environment Minister Keriako Tobiko said his office learned about the amendment through the press and regretted it had caused “panic and doubt in the international community”.
Land is extremely contentious in Kenya, and disputes over ownership can turn violent.
Environmental activist Joannah Stutchbury was shot dead outside her home in Nairobi in July 2021 after spearheading a vocal campaign to protect a forest near the city from developers.
The timing of this bill in a closely-fought election year has also raised eyebrows.
Electoral cycles have often spelled destruction for forests as land is promised to communities and political allies in exchange for votes, said Paula Kahumbu, the head of conservation group Wildlife Direct.
“Forests have always been up for grabs when it comes to elections,” she told AFP.
“It is kind of like the bribe that is not cash.”
Nganga has fought for the forest before, and knows what is at stake now.
The attackers used guns and rocket-propelled grenades during the assault, the report added.
Several passengers survived the attack “with various degrees of injuries”.
The Mandera region is prone to raids over its long and porous land border with Somalia, where the Al-Shabaab militant group controls swathes of countryside and central government authority in remote areas is weak.
Other regions bordering Somalia are also susceptible to attacks and Kenyan officials are often quick to blame the militants for assaults on its soil.
Kenya has suffered several deadly attacks by Al-Shabaab fighters in retaliation for Nairobi sending troops into Somalia in 2011 as part of an African Union force to oust the jihadists.
Kenya is a major contributor of troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
In 2015, an attack on a university in Garissa, another region sharing a border with Somalia, left 148 people dead, almost all of them students.
Most were shot at point-blank range after being identified as Christians.
Last week, a number of diplomatic missions in Nairobi warned of a possible terror attack targeting foreigners in the capital.
The French and German embassies warned of a possible attack within days, while the United States issued a new security alert warning of potential for acts of violence at this time of year in Kenya.
In 2019, Al-Shabaab gunmen killed 21 people at an upscale hotel complex in Nairobi, and in 2013 a bloody four-day siege in the capital’s Westgate shopping mall claimed the lives of 67 people.