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No, Monday, 20 March 2023 not a public holiday in Kenya to allow for protests, as fabricated gazette notice claims


IN SHORT: Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has called for mass action on 20 March. But claims on social media that the day is a public holiday are not backed up by any evidence.

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has called for mass action on 20 March 2023.

The opposition's grievances include the high cost of living, the outcome of the August 2022 general election, in which Odinga lost to president William Ruto, and upcoming electoral reforms.

Odinga also controversially declared the day a public holiday for what he said was to allow Kenyans to take part in the mass protests.

It is in relation to this that what appears to be a “special issue” of the Kenya Gazette, the government’s official publication, has surfaced on social media. It’s dated 17 March 2023 and numbered 134.

"It is notified for general information that in exercise of the powers conferred by sections 3 as read with section 2 (2) of the Public Holidays Act (Cap. 110), the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Co-ordination of National Government declares Monday, 20th March, 2023 a public holiday marking Mass Action Day," the notice reads.

It is apparently signed by Kithure Kindiki, the cabinet secretary for the interior.

Ruto has warned Odinga against organising protests that are illegal and could endanger lives and property or bring the country's economy to a standstill.

This purported gazette notice has been posted on Facebook here, here, here and here.

But has Odinga’s public holiday declaration now been made official? We checked.


Gazette notice is non-existent

None of Kenya’s mainstream media organisations have reported on such a holiday. 

A court on 17 March also said it had not found such a notice.

The prime cabinet secretary, Musalia Mudavadi, was reported as saying that it was “wrong for anyone to declare a public holiday in disregard to the rule of law”.

We also did not find the notice on any of the interior ministry’s social media handles. However, the ministry was quoted on 17 March as saying that Monday would be a normal working day.

The gazette notice cannot be found on the website of Kenya Law, a semi-autonomous government organisation that tracks such notices as part of its mission to make legal information available to the public.

Only three notices were published in March: No 49 on 3 March, No 57 on 10 March and No 65 on 17 March.

Notice 65, published on 17 March, has nothing to do with a public holiday.

Notice 134 cannot be found. At the time of publication, 20 March 2023 is not a public holiday.


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