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Monday, June 24, 2024

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga’s convoy tear-gassed

By Natasha Booty & Ferdinand Omondi, BBC

Kenyan police have tear-gassed opposition leader Raila Odinga’s convoy as he spearheaded the biggest protest against President William Ruto’s government since it took office.

At least one person was shot and several lawmakers were arrested in the crackdown in the capital, Nairobi.

Mr Odinga accuses the government of being “illegitimate”, and of failing to tackle the high cost of living.

Mr Ruto has rejected the opposition leader’s claims.

Kenya’s highest court upheld his victory in last year’s election, but Mr Odinga insists that the election was “stolen”.

He has been driving through Nairobi’s residential suburbs to rally his supporters and has vowed to organise weekly protests against the government.

It has caused many businesses to shut in the city, due to fears of looting.

Running battles have taken place on the main Kenyatta Avenue between police and demonstrators, some of whom are throwing stones at the security officers.

Roads leading to key government buildings have been blocked and the president’s official residence sealed off.

Mr Odinga’s convoy was tear-gassed by police as he left a hotel after addressing the media. Hundreds of his supporters were part of the procession.

An adviser to Mr Odinga later tweeted that the opposition leader’s vehicle had been hit by a bullet.

“Our windscreen has been badly damaged,” Prof Makau Mutua said. He did not give further details, and it is unclear exactly where the alleged incident took place.

Police had earlier denied the opposition permission to hold the protest, and warned that any gathering would be illegal.

Some of the fiercest scenes have been in Nairobi’s Kibera settlement – a poor neighbourhood with a strong history of supporting the opposition.

“We came here peacefully, but they tear-gassed us,” 21-year-old Charles Oduor told the AFP news agency in another district of Nairobi.

“They lie to us everyday. Where is the cheap maize flour they promised? Where are the jobs for the youth they promised? All they do is hire their friends.”

Riot police have also confronted protesters in the western town of Kisumu, where Mr Odinga draws a fanatical following.

Footage shared by Kenya’s Standard newspaper earlier on Monday appears to show local bus operators fleeing their transport hub in central Nairobi.-BBC

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