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Kenya: opposition calls for new day of action on Thursday

Kenya: opposition calls for new day of action on Thursday
Opposition protesters set fire to a truck during clashes in the Kibera slum of ...   -  
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Ben Curtis/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved


Kenyan police clashed with anti-government protesters in the capital, Nairobi, on Tuesday in a fresh round of demonstrations called by the opposition leader.

Opposition MPs went to the Speaker's office in the central business district to present a petition. The police dispersed them using tear gas.

Vice President Rigathi Gachagua "told us we know where to find them. We know it. We went there and met the police. Cowards!" said Senator Edwin Sifuna of Nairobi County.

Protesters who showed up in the morning to erect barricades on the city's main roads threw stones at the police, who responded with tear gas. A bus and a freight truck were set on fire.

Business was brought to a standstill in Kisumu County, an opposition stronghold, as police clashed with protesters.

The opposition is calling for measures to tackle the cost of living and reforms to the electoral commission which oversaw the election won by President William Ruto last year.

Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki in a statement reported acts of violence and looting carried out by "hoards of criminals posing as political protesters", saying law enforcement "have instructed to enforce the law firmly and decisively. " A total of 46 people were arrested on Tuesday, according to the minister.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga, Kenya's former prime minister, rejected the government's position that Tuesday's protests were illegal and urged his supporters to turn out in large numbers.

In a statement, Azimio denounced a massive police deployment "to prevent us from continuing our demonstrations" and accused the government of sending "hooligans" to trigger "chaos" and discredit their movement.

Raila Odinga's former running mate in last year's presidential election, Martha Karua , said protests would resume on Thursday after the opposition took the day off to strategize. Ms. Karua said Mr Odinga and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka had had their security stripped.

The police chief had banned the protests, citing earlier violence that had led to the looting of businesses and the robbery of Kenyans. Mr Odinga said the protests would be peaceful.

On Monday, Mr Ruto warned opposition supporters against destroying private property. He urged Mr Odinga to reconsider the possibility of resuming the talks.

Mr Odinga had called off protests during Ramadan to pave the way for talks proposed by Mr Ruto. The opposition and the ruling party nominated politicians to participate in the discussions, but the opposition rejected some of the candidates nominated by the ruling party.

The talks have since broken down and the opposition has announced it will resume street protests.

Elected by making himself the herald of the "resourceful" of the little people, William Ruto has since faced criticism, in particular after having removed costly subsidies on fuel and corn flour, the prices of which have risen in stride.

Economic powerhouse of East Africa, Kenya is facing galloping inflation, which reached 9.2% year on year in February. Food prices alone increased by 13.3%.

The country is also battling a depreciation of the Kenyan shilling and unprecedented drought in parts of the country.

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