NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Thousands rallied Monday in Kenya’s capital against President Uhuru Kenyatta’s rule, with some demanding that he step down for failing to improve the lives of Kenyans since he came to office last year.
Kenya’s main opposition group, which organized the protest, signaled they would carry out more mass protests after the government refused to comply with its demands to convene national talks on security, corruption and the rising cost of living.
“Today we are telling the president if he is not working, he must go,” Senator Bonny Khalwale told protesters at Nairobi’s central park. The crowd responded with chants of “Uhuru must go!”
The protesters were met by 15,000 security officers, many in riot gear, and some businesses and schools did not open for fear of riots. The rally ended up being mostly peaceful, although police lobbed tear gas at youths who threw stones at officers.
Pamela Ondito, 38, said she was protesting because she was having a hard time getting a job despite being trained in hotel management. She said she was not related to anyone with influence, and in Kenya “you have to know somebody to get a job or anywhere in life.”
The opposition group, the Coalition for Reforms of Democracy, or CORD, had asked the government to convene national talks by July 7 on those topics, while the government says those issues should be discussed in parliament.
On Monday CORD also demanded that the government withdraw Kenyan troops from Somalia.
Kenya has witnessed a notable increase in attacks since deploying troops in Oct. 2011 to fight al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants. The terror group has claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Kenyan coast which killed 65 people last month, as well as an overnight attack Saturday in the same area in which 22 people were killed.
More protest rallies are planned, the opposition said.
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