Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga says protests against President William Ruto’s government over the high cost of living would go ahead as scheduled despite a police ban.
In a Twitter post, Odinga called for protests on Monday and Thursday, hours after accusing Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua of “coordinating a campaign of mayhem” against the planned demonstrations.
Last week, protests in Nairobi and other cities turned violent, and one person was killed. Police arrested more than 200 people, including lawmakers belonging to Odinga’s One Kenya Coalition Party from both houses of parliament.
Kenya’s police chief on Sunday announced a ban on the protests called by Odinga, saying such acts remained illegal.
“We have been restraining ourselves. We cannot do that any more,” Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome told reporters at a media briefing. “We are ready as the police force to maintain peace.”
During last week’s protests, police used tear gas and water cannon, including at Odinga’s convoy. Nairobi’s central business district had a heavy police presence before Monday’s planned rallies.
Odinga, 78, has called for indefinite twice-weekly protests, citing the high cost of staples such as maize flour, which has kept inflation high. He also has accused Ruto of cheating in last year’s presidential election.
Ruto, who inherited a huge foreign debt and has scrapped fuel subsidies, said last week that the protests were hurting businesses and Kenya’s people.
Odinga, a former prime minister, has lost five elections in a row in his bid to be president. He challenged the most recent result before the Supreme Court, which upheld Ruto’s victory.