Kenyan police fire tear gas to disperse cost-of-living protests

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Police in Kenya’s capital Nairobi fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of people protesting against President William Ruto over the high cost of living and claims of cheating in last year’s election.

Raila Odinga, who lost to Ruto in August’s poll, has urged nationwide protests as he attempts to harness signs of rising dissatisfaction with the president.

The discontented include some of those who voted for Ruto and feel he has not delivered on pledges to help the country’s forgotten “hustlers,” or working-class Kenyans.

Police officers in riot gear fired tear gas at hundreds of rock-throwing protesters in the vast Kibera slum, who chanted: “Ruto must go.”

They also used tear gas to disperse demonstrators trying to gather in the Central Business District, Reuters reporters said.

Odinga has called for a march from the Central Business District toward the president’s State House residence.

Despite Ruto’s promises to bring down living costs since taking power in September, inflation has remained high in East Africa’s economic powerhouse.

In February, the inflation rate rose to 9.2% year-on-year from 9.0% a month earlier, although that is down from a high of 9.6% last October.

Ruto has said his government is laying the foundations of a healthier economy, including by cutting reliance on borrowing.

Odinga, who has lost five presidential elections, has cast the demonstration as an opportunity to protest the August vote, which he says was tainted by fraud.

He challenged the results in the Supreme Court last year but the court affirmed Ruto’s win and there was little of the violence that marred elections in 2007 and 2017.

In a tweet on Sunday, Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party quoted him as asking supporters to converge in the Central Business District to “begin our grand March to State House to reclaim out stolen victory”.