Kenyans are deeply worried by the soaring cost of living, but many of those who spoke to AFP said they could not afford the disruption caused by the protests.
Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki warned that the government would no longer accept the discontent after the bloodshed.
In a statement denouncing “widespread violence, looting and destruction of private and public property,” he stated, “Lives have been lost, scores of law enforcement officers and civilians have been grievously injured, and unimaginable loss to the country’s economy has been occasioned.”
He swore, “This culture of impunity will end.
Five of the six deaths were reported in the communities of Mlolongo and Kitengela on the outskirts of Nairobi, where police had earlier used tear gas to disperse protests.
One death was reported in Emali, a town along that road, where tear gas was also used to disperse mobs assaulting a highway linking Nairobi to the coastal city of Mombasa.
A police official reported, “We have three deaths in Mlolongo, where a group of protesters had blocked the road to protest, as well as two others in Kitengela and one in Emali.”
On the condition of anonymity, he stated, “There was a confrontation with police officers deployed to put down the riots and some (people) were shot in the process.”
“I can confirm the deaths in Mlolongo, Emali, and Kitengela,” a second policeman added without offering any other details.
Numerous kids in Nairobi’s Kangemi slum were taken to the hospital, some of them unconscious, after tear gas was shot close to their classrooms, the clinic’s director told AFP.
“We took 53 of them to the hospital, and they are all now in stable condition awaiting discharge,” he added.
In an effort to overthrow the government, opposition leader Raila Odinga had called for protests against a tax bill that had caused gasoline costs to soar, making life even harder for Kenyans living in poverty.
Police head Japhet Koome, however, said late on Tuesday that no official notification of rallies had been given to the authorities as required by law.
He said that “all legal means will be used to disperse such demonstrations.”
As demonstrators flocked to the streets, major roadways in numerous western cities where Odinga enjoys strong support were abandoned.
Tear gas and bullets
Six people were also slain during protests that took place in numerous cities last week, according to the interior ministry, which sparked the conflicts.
Opposition parties and human rights activists charged the police for using excessive force.
On Wednesday, Odinga stated, “We have always emphasized that these meetings stay peaceful until police decide to break them up with gunshots and tear gas.
“Police have shot, injured, and killed protesters in various parts of the country, including here in Nairobi.”
However, he said that he was canceling his intentions to speak to supporters in the capital due to concerns about their safety.
The prohibition comes in response to demonstrations last Friday, when police in Nairobi sprayed tear gas at Odinga’s convoy, according to AFP journalists.
They responded to protests in Mombasa and Kisumu with similar actions.
Campaigners claim that on Saturday, police deployed tear gas on leaders of civil society who were pleading for the release of several protesters who had been detained.
In addition to Amnesty International’s criticism of arbitrary arrests, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has called for an inquiry into all instances of police abuse that have been documented.
Tax increase After losing to William Ruto in the presidential election in August—a result he alleges was “stolen”—Odinga organized a number of anti-government protests this year.
A new financial law designed to raise more than $2.1 billion for the government’s impoverished coffers served as the impetus for Wednesday’s protest call.
It includes additional taxes or price hikes on necessities like food and gasoline, mobile money transfers, and a tax on all taxpayers to pay for a housing program.
After a senator filed a complaint contesting the legislation’s constitutional legitimacy, the top court blocked its implementation. The suspension has been challenged by the administration.
Despite this, Kenya’s energy regulator has already announced an increase in pump prices after the law’s mandated doubling of VAT to 16 percent.
The rising cost of living in Kenya is a major source of concern, but many of the people who talked to AFP said they could not afford the unrest brought on by the protests.
The Kenya Private Sector Alliance calculated that each day of protests costs the nation’s economy an average of 3 billion shillings ($21.8 million).
AFP was informed by shopkeeper Lameck Mwangi, 34, that he had made the decision to close his electronics shop in the heart of Nairobi for the day.
“When we see deserted streets like this and police patrolling town, we all know where it ends,” he remarked.