NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — At least three Kenyan legislators and several protesters have been arrested and then released for participating in protests in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, in which opposition supporters demanded the resignation of President William Ruto.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga joined thousands of demonstrators and announced weekly demonstrations until the president resigns or the cost of living goes down.
Odinga’s convoy of dozens of cars drove around the city after being blocked from accessing the central business district.
He made public addresses on several stops and his motorcade was teargassed several times by police. In response his supporters pelted stones at the police.
Odinga asserted that his car was shot at by the police and his party spokesperson shared a photo of a shattered windscreen online.
Police did not respond to a request from The Associated Press to comment on the shooting claims.
The legislators arrested have been released and are to appear in court on Thursday on charges that have not yet been announced, according to Nairobi police chief Adamson Bungei.
He said others arrested in the protests would be released after paying cash bail.
Bungei had over the weekend said police had denied the opposition permission to hold their protests and that any congregation would be illegal.
The opposition called for protests against Ruto who they say was not validly elected in the August 2022 elections. They are also blaming Ruto’s administration for the rising cost of living.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga on Sunday insisted that protests would proceed as planned and demonstrators would march to State House, the official residence of the president.
Odinga said Kenyan citizens have a constitutional right to demonstrate and the role of the police is to protect them after they issue a notification in advance.
Police have been heavily deployed to State House with motorists and pedestrians being stopped from accessing the road there.
Most shops in Nairobi’s central business district closed on Monday as business owners feared looting.
Kenya’s deputy president Rigathi Gachagua said the country has lost about 2 billion Kenya shillings ($15 million) due to Monday’s protests. Gachagua urged Odinga to call off the protests and think about the losses to the economy.
The leaders who have been arrested include the senate minority leader Stewart Madzayo and members of parliament Opiyo Wandayi and Amina Mnyazi.
Other legislators who had turned up at the designated meeting point in the city were dispersed by the police with teargas. They retreated to parliament buildings where they announced that protests would continue through the afternoon.
Kenya’s opposition has in the past held violent demonstrations in which people have died.