Kenya’s president on Wednesday apologised for violence meted out by police following the declaration of a nationwide curfew last week to curb the spread of coronavirus.
“I want to apologise to all Kenyans for… some excesses that were conducted,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a live broadcast from State House, during which he also introduced two young Kenyan coronavirus survivors.
“But I want to assure you that if we work together, if we all understand that this problem needs all of us, and if we pull in the same direction, we will overcome,” Kenyatta said.
Police have used heavy-handed tactics to enforce the dusk to dawn curfew since its introduction on Friday, with tear gas, baton charges and the alleged firing of live rounds.
A 13-year-old boy died in the capital Nairobi on Monday after being shot while standing on his balcony as police forced people into their homes on the street below.
Sporadic clashes have also been reported in the western city of Kisumu and the port town of Mombasa where officers chased, beat and fired tear gas at evening commuters last week.
“I want to thank all those who are ensuring that they maintain their work schedule by allowing our Kenyans to leave work on time in order for them to make the curfew,” Kenyatta said.
The curfew is among measures that Kenya has taken aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus. It has also closed borders and schools, and encouraged people to stay at home and avoid gatherings.
A lockdown has yet to be imposed, but Kenyatta said Wednesday that tighter restrictions had not been ruled out.
“We as a government are preparing for the worst, but together with the 47 million Kenyans are hoping and praying that we do not need to take further measures,” he said.
Kenya has so far recorded 59 cases of coronavirus and one death.