Police arrest protesters in Nairobi, Kenya - July 19, 2023

Protesters are outraged by price hikes, including the doubling of VAT on fuel.

Kenya has closed schools in its two main cities as protesters clashed with police for three days.

In the capital, Nairobi, and in the coastal city of Mombasa, people protested against the rising cost of living.

Many businesses remained closed for fear of looting, and people were afraid of being caught in violent clashes.

At least 14 people died in protests last week – 10 were shot dead by police.

Human rights organizations strongly criticized the police for using excessive force last Wednesday. More than 50 children were hospitalized after tear gas was fired into their classroom in Nairobi.

The opposition has called for a series of protests following the tax hike by President William Ruto’s government last month.

The police chief has deployed riot police across the country, saying the protests are a threat to national security.

In some cities in the Rift Valley, including Nairobi and Nakuru, protesters blocked roads and threw stones at police.

There are reports that several people have been injured in such clashes in Migori district in the western part of the country.

Migori Oruba nursing home director Christine Wema told the BBC that two people had entered the facility with leg injuries, possibly from rubber bullets fired by police.

Another man had breathing problems after a tear gas canister was set off in his home, she said.

Human rights organizations and diplomats have stated that the situation in Kenya is serious and have called on the government and the opposition to resolve their differences peacefully.

The two sides agreed to talk earlier in the year, but opponents say Mr Ruto’s team is not committed to resolving their grievances.

These include the cost of living and the performance of last year’s election, which President Ruto won by promising to protect the interests of the poor.

But since taking office, he has done little to tackle inflation and his government has hiked taxes – doubling the value-added tax on fuel.

Tensions could be further exacerbated by reports in local media that opposition leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musoka’s security details have been scrapped ahead of this week’s protests.

The security officers assigned to the widow of Kenya’s first president, Njina Kenyatta, have also been dismissed. She is also the mother of President Uhuru Kenyatta, an ally of Mr Odinga who has been accused by the government of funding the protests.

By W_Manga

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