Nairobi, Jul 19 (EFE).- Kenyan police used tear gas to disperse several protests on Wednesday called by the opposition amid tax hikes and growing tensions over the violent repression of previous demonstrations that left dozens of people dead.
Nairobi’s main roads were deserted on Wednesday morning and many stores and businesses remained closed amid the threat of unrest.
Authorities ordered the closure of schools in several parts of the country until at least Monday.
An armed anti-riot police officer (C) runs away from a group of angry protestors and supporters of the opposition Azimio coalition as they throw stones towards the police, during new nationwide protests, in Nairobi, Kenya, 19 July 2023. EFE/EPA/Daniel Irungu
Despite a heavy police deployment and rising tensions on the streets, hundreds of Kenyans protested in Nairobi and other cities.
Protesters erected barricades and scorched tires on the roads in an attempt to prevent police from accessing certain areas after demonstrations were banned.
“While Article 37 of the Constitution gives the right to assemble, demonstrate and picket, lessons from recent similar demonstrations that left trails of destruction of property, injuries and loss of lives, clearly indicate that such demonstrations are nothing but a threat to national security,” Kenyan Police Inspector General Japhet Koome said in a statement Tuesday.
The protests, which have been called by Kenya’s opposition leader, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga (2008-2013), are expected to last until Friday next week.
Security forces often fire both live ammunition and tear gas to disperse demonstrations in Kenya.
Last week at least 23 people were killed and dozens were injured during widespread protests, according to the United Nations Human Rights Office.
In May, human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch documented the killings of at least 16 people, most of whom were shot or beaten by Kenyan security forces during demonstrations from March onwards.
Tension and social discontent have been on the rise in recent weeks, after Ruto approved on June 26 a new law that, among other measures, would raise fuel taxes to 16%.
The opposition has led numerous protests this year against the rise in prices of basic goods and food and to protest President William Ruto’s government, whom Odinga accuses of rigging the August 2022 election results.
Odinga – who obtained 48.85% of the vote – does not recognize the election results, despite the fact that the Supreme Court rejected his appeal against Ruto’s victory.EFE