On Monday, police used tear gas to disperse anti-government protests over the high cost of living, after the opposition vowed to continue protesting despite a police ban.
Riot police were stationed at strategic points throughout Nairobi and patrolled the streets, while many shops were closed and train services from the capital’s outskirts into the central business district were suspended.
Raila Odinga, the veteran opposition leader, has urged people to take to the streets every Monday and Thursday, despite the fact that protests a week ago turned violent and paralysed parts of Nairobi.
Police clashed with stone-throwing demonstrators in Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum, where protesters set fire to tyres, defying a warning from Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome, who said Sunday that the rallies were “illegal” and would be banned.
The situation was calmer elsewhere in the city, with a heavy police presence in areas where protests had occurred the previous week.
A university student was killed by police fire during last Monday’s clashes in Nairobi and opposition strongholds in western Kenya, while 31 officers were injured as running battles erupted between riot police and demonstrators.
More than 200 people were arrested, including several senior opposition politicians, while tear gas and water cannons were used against protesters and Odinga’s motorcade. dubbed the “Mother of All Demonstrations,”
It was the first major outbreak of political unrest since President William Ruto took office more than six months ago after defeating Odinga in a “stolen” election.
Despite the police ban, Odinga called on Kenyans to join what he called the “mother of all demonstrations” on Sunday.
“I want to assure Mr. Ruto and Inspector General Koome that we will not be intimidated,” he said. “We will not be afraid of tear gas or police.”
Odinga also accused Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua of organising a “mayhem” operation at Monday’s rallies.
Following the previous violence, Nairobi residents were wary.
“I may have to close as well because most of my neighbours have,” Mercy Wangare, a Mpesa (mobile money) kiosk attendant at an electronics store, said.
“I’m just weighing the situation before making a decision because the sight of these cops patrolling around is a sign that things might not end well.”
The Communications Authority of Kenya attempted to prevent television stations from broadcasting live coverage of the demonstrations, but the High Court blocked the move.
‘Stop terrorising the nation.’
Ruto, who is currently on a four-day trip to Germany and Belgium, has urged his opponent to call a halt to the action.
“If Raila Odinga has a problem with me, he should confront me and stop terrorising the country,” he said on Thursday.
“Stop impeding the businesses of mama mboga, matatu, and other Kenyans,” he said, referring to female market vendors and private minibus drivers.
Many Kenyans are struggling to put food on the table, owing to rising food prices, a depreciating local currency, and a record drought that has left millions hungry.
“If the leaders do not speak up, we suffer.” They are the ones who will sleep hungry,” Collins Kibe, a motorcycle taxi driver, told AFP.
During the campaign, Ruto portrayed himself as a champion of the oppressed and promised to improve the lives of ordinary Kenyans.
However, critics claim that he has broken several campaign promises and has removed subsidies for fuel and maize flour, both of which are dietary staples.
Demonstrators in Kibera, an Odinga stronghold, clashed with police on Monday, banging empty pots and pans and chanting “we don’t have maize flour.”
Kenya’s energy regulatory body has also announced an increase in electricity prices beginning in April, despite Ruto’s insistence in January that no such increase would occur.
Last week’s protests cost the country at least $15 million, according to Gachagua.
Police said Friday that they had launched a manhunt for suspects in last week’s riots and released photos of people throwing rocks at officers, burning tires, and vandalising property.
However, an AFP Fact Check investigation discovered that several of the photographs were old and unrelated to the events of Monday.
On Saturday, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations apologised on Twitter for what it called a “mix-up of images.”