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Kenyan Police Tear Gas Anti-Tax Protesters

A riot police officer fires teargas to disperse supporters of Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga during an anti-government protest against the imposition of tax hikes, Nairobi, July 12, 2023.

NAIROBI — Kenyan police officers Wednesday tear gassed protesters who were in defiance of a ban on a demonstration against tax hikes called for by opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Kenyan officers Wednesday followed through on a warning issued on Tuesday night by the police chief who said opposition supporters should withhold from “illegal demonstrations,” adding that organizers had not provided authorities with “notifications” of a planned rally for this week.

A statement released by Inspector General of Police, Japhet Koome read, “in this regard, no such demonstrations/ gatherings/ protests will be allowed tomorrow.”

“All lawful means will be used to disperse such demonstrations,” added Koome’s statement.

Wednesday's protests happened as shops were shut and security was tight in the capital, Nairobi, where police deployed tear gas on stone-throwing demonstrators in the slum of Mathare. Tear gas was also used to disperse crowds in the port city of Mombasa.

The clashes followed rallies in several cities last week that turned deadly. Six people were killed according to the interior ministry, and rights campaigners accused police of being heavy-handed.

Police in Nairobi on Friday fired tear gas, targeting Odinga's convoy, AFP reporters reported.

They took similar steps against demonstrations in the cities of Mombasa and Kisumu.

On Saturday campaigners said police used tear gas on civil society representatives demanding the release of dozens of people arrested during the protests.

Kenya’s National Commission on Human Rights reacted by calling for “a thorough investigation into all reported incidents of police brutality,” adding to the chorus of condemnation from rights groups including Amnesty International who argue “arbitrary arrests.”

Odinga's Azimio alliance has vowed to stage protests every week against the tax policies of President William Ruto's government.