Police fire tear gas at opposition convoy as protests rage across Kenya

Kenyan police have fired tear gas on opposition leader Raila Odinga's convoy as people joined anti-government protests in several cities.

Tear gas was fired on Odinga's motorcade after he addressed a mass rally in the capital Nairobi on Friday, AFP correspondents said.

Police took similar action to break up protests in the Indian Ocean port city of Mombasa and Kisumu, an opposition stronghold on Lake Victoria.

Police were out in force for the protests, the latest called by Odinga this year over the policies of the government of President William Ruto.

At the rally, Odinga — who lost the close-fought August 2022 election to Ruto —announced plans to collect 10 million signatures in a bid to remove his arch-rival from office.

"Kenyans elected leaders to parliament and they have betrayed them," he said to cheers. "Ruto himself who took over power illegally has betrayed Kenyans."

Police also arrested 17 protesters in the capital Nairobi, said a coalition of human rights groups including Article 19. Another 11 activists were arrested in other towns, the groups said.

"We witnessed protesters being dragged on the ground," the group of 10 watchdogs said in a statement, calling for an investigation into police conduct during the protests.

There was no immediate comment by the police on the reports.

New finance bill

Odinga's Azimio alliance had called for protests over the impact of the new taxes on Kenyans already suffering economic hardship and soaring prices for basic necessities.

Last week, Ruto signed into law a finance bill that is expected to generate more than $2.1 billion for the government's depleted coffers and help repair the heavily indebted economy.

The Finance Act provides for new taxes or increases on a range of basic goods such as fuel and food and mobile money transfers, as well as a controversial levy on all taxpaying Kenyans to fund a housing scheme.

Critics accuse Ruto of rowing back on promises made during his election campaign, when he declared himself the champion of impoverished Kenyans and pledged to improve their economic fortunes.

But the 56-year-old rags-to-riches businessman has defended the taxes, saying they will help create jobs and reduce public borrowing.

The high court in Nairobi last Friday suspended implementation of the legislation after a senator filed a case challenging its constitutional legality.


Despite the ruling, Kenya's energy regulator later that day announced a hike in pump prices to take account of the doubling of VAT to 16 percent as stipulated in the law.