People walk on the street to join a rally called by the opposition leader Raila Odinga who claims the last Kenyan presidential election was stolen from him and blames the government for the hike of living costs in Kawangware, Nairobi, on March 27, 2023. Police fired tear gas to disperse anti-government protests on March 27, 2023 over the high cost of living, after the opposition vowed demonstrations would go ahead despite a police ban. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP)
(AFP) – African Union Commission head Moussa Faki Mahamat on Tuesday voiced “deep concern” after anti-government protests in Kenya turned violent, and appealed for calm.
“The chairperson urges all stakeholders to exercise calm and engage in dialogue to address any differences that may exist in the supreme interest of national unity and reconciliation,” Faki’s office said in a statement.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga has called for regular protests every Monday and Thursday, accusing President William Ruto of stealing last year’s election and of failing to control the surging cost of living.
On Monday, police fired tear gas in Nairobi and the western city of Kisumu — an Odinga stronghold — to disperse crowds, aiming canisters at cars carrying journalists in the capital, while looters went on the rampage.
Officers also used tear gas and water cannon as Odinga’s convoy moved through a congested neighbourhood in Nairobi, sending people running for cover.
One man was shot dead in Kisumu, the head of the city’s main hospital told AFP, the second fatality reported since the demonstrations kicked off the previous Monday, when a university student was killed by police fire.
Faki “expresses deep concern at violence… which has resulted in loss of life, damage of property and the interruption of certain economic activities,” his office said.
“The chairperson reiterates the total solidarity with and support to the government and the people of Kenya‘s efforts working towards national unity, peace and stability in the country.”
Many Kenyans are struggling to put food on the table, battling high prices for basic goods as well as a plunging local currency and record drought that has left millions hungry.
© Agence France-Presse