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Police fire tear gas at banned demonstrators in Kenya

Police fire tear gas at banned demonstrators in Kenya
Demonstrators surround Raila Odinga's convoy as tear gas is fired during protests...   -  
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Brian Inganga/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.


Kenyan police fired tear gas on Wednesday at demonstrators who had defied a ban on opposition rallies to protest against rising prices and new government taxes.

Shops were closed and the capital Nairobi was under heavy police surveillance. In the Mathare slum, police fired tear gas at demonstrators, who threw stones at them. They also used them to disperse demonstrators in the southern port city of Mombasa.

On Tuesday, the head of the national police force banned demonstrations called by the opposition, on the grounds that the latter had not informed the authorities, and invited the population not to join these "illegal gatherings".

Last Friday, demonstrations against the government of President William Ruto took place in several cities in response to a call from opposition leader Raila Odinga.

In Nairobi, the police fired tear gas at Mr Odinga's convoy. They did the same to disperse rallies in Mombasa (south) and Kisumu (west).

At least three people were killed following the demonstrations, according to hospital and police sources. Kenya's National Human Rights Commission has called for a "thorough investigation into all reported cases of 'police brutality'".

On Saturday, activists claimed that police fired tear gas at civil society representatives, including former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, who were demanding the release of dozens of people arrested during the protests.

Raila Odinga's Azimio alliance intends to organise weekly demonstrations against the policies of William Ruto's government. Mr Odinga, who lost the August 2022 presidential election to his rival, claims that the election was "stolen" from him.

At the beginning of July, President Ruto promulgated a finance bill introducing a series of new taxes, despite criticism from the opposition and the population of a country hit by high inflation.

In particular, the law provides for an increase in VAT on fuel from 8% to 16%, as well as an unpopular levy on salaries to finance a low-cost housing programme. Initially planned at 3%, it has been reduced to 1.5%.

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