NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Police in Kenya clashed with anti-government protesters Tuesday in the capital, Nairobi, during a fresh round of demonstrations called by the opposition leader.
Opposition lawmakers marched to the president’s office, in the central business district, to present a petition. Police dispersed them with tear gas.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua “told us we know where to find them. We do. We went there and instead met police. Cowards!” Sen. Edwin Sifuna, who represents Nairobi County, said.
Protesters who turned up in the morning to erect barricades on major roads around the city threw stones at police, who responded with tear gas. A bus and a cargo truck were torched.
Business was paralyzed in Kisumu County, an opposition stronghold, as police clashed with protesters.
The opposition is calling for action to tackle the cost of living and reforms to the electoral commission that oversaw the election won by President William Ruto last year.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga, a former prime minister of Kenya, rejected the government’s position that Tuesday’s protests were illegal and urged his supporters to turn up in large numbers.
Odinga’s former running mate in last year’s presidential election, Martha Karua, said protests would resume Thursday after the opposition takes a day off to strategize.
Karua said Odinga and former Deputy President Kalonzo Musyoka both had their security withdrawn.
The police chief had banned the protests, citing previous protest violence that led to businesses being looted and Kenyans being robbed.
Odinga said the protests would be peaceful.
Ruto on Monday warned opposition supporters against destroying private property. He urged Odinga to reconsider returning to talks.
Odinga had called off protests during Ramadan to pave the way for the talks proposed by Ruto. Both the opposition and the ruling party nominated politicians to take part in the discussions, but the opposition rejected some of those nominated by the ruling party.
The talks have since halted, and the opposition announced that it would resume street protests.