IG Koome Orders Strict Action Against Police Who Tear-Gassed Raila Birthday Party

 Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome on Sunday ordered that “stern administrative action” be taken against police officers who tear-gassed Raila Odinga's supporters during the opposition leader's birthday celebrations at the Nairobi city centre.

Opposition-allied leaders said police lobbed tear gas to disrupt the event, making them change the venue for a cake-cutting ceremony they had organised to celebrate the former prime minister who turned 79 on Sunday.

Through a statement released late evening, the National Police Service (NPS) termed the officers’ actions as unlawful.

“The National Police Service takes cognizance of the unwarranted violent dispersion of members of the public who were holding a peaceful celebration in Nairobi today 7/7/2024. The Inspector General, IG Japhet Koome has directed for stern administrative action to be taken against the Officers who engaged in the unlawful action,” it read.

“The National Police Service reiterates its commitment to remain politically neutral in execution of its mandate of protecting life and property.”

Odinga, who leads the Azimio La Umoja One Kenya coalition, himself was reportedly not present during the incident, with Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka saying he was away in Malindi, Kilifi County.

Citizen Digital saw people dressed in the opposition coalition's purple and orange colours singing birthday songs around a cake mounted at a tent near Kenya National Archives at the central business.

Tear gas canisters began blowing up at the main table where the cake and cutlery were placed, as the crowd and nearby traders rushed away.

A woman in purple tried to take away the cake from the cloud of smoke but another canister was lobbed at her, landing directly onto the cake. She threw the cake and walked away while two black SUVs were seen driving off the scene.

The cakes were decorated with 'Cut VAT', 'Cut Turnover Tax' and 'Cut Housing Levy', among other phrases, while atop them a miniature Kenyan flag was mounted.

The Azimio leaders were speaking to the media at Serena Hotel, which they said is where they had moved the cake-cutting ceremony.

"No one can prevent people from cutting a cake. The tear gas is a fear the government has about Odinga," Musyoka added.