Police in Kenya have used water cannons and tear gas to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters who marched on Monday on the streets of the capital, Nairobi, defying a government ban on rallies.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga joined protesters on the western side of the capital, where his convoy attracted thousands of supporters and he addressed them at various stops, calling for electoral justice and reduced prices for food items.
Police chief Japheth Koome insists that the protests are illegal, but Odinga says Kenyans have a right to demonstrate.
Odinga and his party, Azimio la Umoja–One Kenya Coalition, are leading the protests against the rising cost of living and calling for President William Ruto’s resignation, saying he wasn’t validly elected in last year’s polls.
Odinga’s legal challenge against last year’s presidential election was thrown out by the courts, but he continues to allege that the poll was marred by fraud.
The opposition leader has urged his followers to take to the streets twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.
Ruto over the weekend urged Odinga to face him directly and “stop terrorising the country”.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua shared photos of himself at his office early on Monday morning and urged Kenyans to report to work. Ruto is currently out of the country visiting Germany.
Nairobi’s central business district remained calm, but most businesses were closed on Monday morning due to the uncertainty over demonstrations.
There were reports of some violence directed at Odinga and his supporters. Some people raided a farm on the outskirts of the capital owned by the family of former president Uhuru Kenyatta, cutting trees and taking away sheep, according to local media reports. The former president supported Odinga in the 2022 elections.
Odinga’s gas cylinder manufacturing business near the central business district was pelted with stones.