Kenya’s opposition set for second day of tax-hike protests

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Kenya’s opposition was due to protest for a second day on Thursday over the high cost of living and tax hikes after police clashed with demonstrators and arrested at least 300 people on Wednesday.

“The voice of the people must be heard. Our peaceful protest continues,” opposition leader Raila Odinga wrote on Twitter.

The Wednesday-to-Friday demonstrations are the third round of protests that the opposition has called this month.

Several people were reported shot, some possibly fatally, on Wednesday, and senior opposition leaders were arrested after demonstrators hurled rocks at police and security forces fired volleys of tear gas.

The Nation newspaper reported that Odinga’s Azimio opposition party had called for its supporters to assemble at Huruma grounds, Kangemi grounds, and Central Park in the capital Nairobi on Thursday.

A lawyer for the former leader of the Mungiki criminal gang, Maina Njenga, who has been seen at opposition rallies recently and is viewed as a close Odinga ally, said Njenga was among those arrested on Wednesday.

The Nation posted images on Twitter, which it said showed armed officers on standby in Nairobi’s central business district, where there was a “semblance of normality” as of 0900 local time (0600 GMT).

Veteran politician Odinga lost last August’s election to President William Ruto, his fifth election loss in a row.

Odinga has repeatedly asked his followers to engage in acts of civil disobedience against a government he accuses of raising the cost of living and consolidating power.

Ruto has pledged to champion the interests of the poor, but he has seen the price of basic commodities balloon under his administration. His government argues higher taxes are necessary to help deal with growing debt repayments and to fund job-creation initiatives.

Odinga has in the past secured senior positions in government by making deals with those in power following spasms of unrest.