Kenyan Police Fire Tear Gas At Protesters

Police fired tear gas at antigovernment protesters in Kenya yesterday, shortly before an opposition rally in the capital, stoking tensions in a nation haunted by past political violence and battling a wave of militant attacks.

Police shot gas canisters to disperse unruly protesters on Nairobi’s streets and fired again after youths hurled stones at them from inside a central park where a few thousand people gathered for the rally, witnesses said. Calm swiftly returned.

A street protest drew a similar police response in the western city of Kisumu, a stronghold for opposition leader Raila Odinga, who called yesterday’s rally in the capital to demand talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta. Odinga, who was expected to address the Nairobi rally later yesterday, says dialogue is needed to deal with a host of grievances including a slowing economy and a spate of militant attacks, the latest of which killed 29 people at the weekend.

“Uhuru must go”, chanted a group of a few hundred protesters in Nairobi’s streets early yesterday. Some clambered over statues, prompting police to fire teargas.

A few thousand had gathered in the nearby park by early afternoon before the main speeches began at what the opposition promises will be a mass rally. Some chanted or danced to music, a scene that was briefly marred when some youths hurled stones at lines of police, who fired tear gas back.

“This country is not well and this government hasn’t delivered a single thing from their manifesto,” said Mohamed Hassan, 30, who was joining the rally in the park. “Raila Odinga wants people to get jobs and (a) poor man to get a good home.”

Nairobi’s streets were quieter than normal, as many Kenyans steered clear of the city centre. — Reuters

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