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NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- National Super Alliance (NASA) Leaders brief during a press that they asked their supporters to boycott products from companies they claim were actively supporting Jubilee, in Nairobi. NASA appealed to their supporters to boycott products and services from a list of leading Kenyan enterprises. XINHUA PHOTO - FRED MUTUNE

Kenyan opposition supporters start controversial business boycotts

by Bedah Mengo NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Many opposition supporters in Kenya seem to have heeded to calls by their leaders to boycott products of companies they accused of working with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government to defeat electoral justice in recent polls.

Lawmakers allied to the National Super Alliance (NASA) on Friday named and shamed a list of leading companies, while experts and business lobbies condemned such boycotts as detrimental to the Kenyan economy already struggling amid the prolonged election season.

"We have begun the liberation of this country.

"Companies that decided to go to bed with the ruling Jubilee Party will not be left out and must feel the pinch of their actions so that next time they remain neutral in political situations," said Junet Mohammed, an opposition legislator.

At major supermarkets in Nairobi, some buyers interviewed said they intentionally avoided products which NASA politicians have isolated.

On social media, NASA supporters rallied each other on the boycott and shared stories of their actions.

One NASA blogger chided that he did not eat supper in his house after realizing his wife used products made by a company on the boycott list.

Deputy President William Ruto on Friday termed the move by NASA as an extortion scheme in the name of boycotting products of companies.

He asked the companies targeted to reject what he called "bizarre, extortion racket-styled economic boycott" and continue to meet their tax obligations to the government.

"As the government of Kenya, we these other companies to reject the move and continue with expansion program that will increase jobs in the country," he said.

Joseph Gacheru, a Jubilee supporter, dismissed the boycott, noting that it would not work.

He accused the opposition of seeking to destroy the economy.

"The move is likely to hurt business community and will not even last long," Gacheru told Xinhua.

Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) and Kenya Private Sector Alliance also asked the opposition to go slow on the economic boycott, noting the move would hurt the economy.

"Reasons for calling consumer boycott are always not due to political stalemate but by largely revolve around quality and they should not be done by political leaders," said Cofek in a statement.

Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer in Nairobi, termed the boycott as detrimental to the companies and the economy in general, noting the move is not good in the country.

"This boycott has far-reaching consequences.

"It means job losses, lack of creation of jobs and even collapse of the companies," he said.

NASA politicians have promised to name more companies in the coming weeks whose supporters should boycott.

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