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Shops keep doors shut as protests intensify in Kenya

A Kenya police officer clears the road during clashes in the Mathare area of Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, July 19, 2023.   -  
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Brian Inganga/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.


Kenyans had made arrangements for Wednesday's (Jul. 19) latest round of protests organized by the opposition.

The nationwide demonstrations called for the government of President William Ruto to lower the cost of living. They were also aimed at forcing the president to repeal a law imposing new taxes.

In Nairobi, some hoped the marches would make a difference: "The protests we are having on weekly basis is going to bring a change because the advisors surrounding the president are not telling the truth," Fred Onzere, who is currently unemployed said.

"Now I think even if the president is going to sit down in his house even late in night because he is very busy, he will be able to see news and see the suffering of his people."

However, the demonstrations meant bad news for business owners. Many had shut doors ahead of the protests.

Some are concerned over the loss of lives and destruction of property.

Kenya Private Sector Alliance said it estimated that each day of protest cost the economy an average of three billion shillings ($21.8 million).

It is the third time this month that opposition leader Raila Odinga has staged mass rallies.

"I would really ask that the protests stop. We need to give the president time to deliver on his promises,"  businesswoman Monica Njoki, pleaded.

"Definitely, it’s affecting our business, matatu (buses ed.) sector, because people are afraid. Like today, they are indoors because they are fearing, because they see insecurity," Amos Waro, a bus driver revealed.

Christian and Muslim religious leaders have called for dialogue between the government and the opposition to end the protests.

President Ruto campaigned to bring prices down and has been criticised for not keeping his word.

At least 12 people were wounded in Wednesday's country-wide protests.

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