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Kenya’s opposition says it will resume protests on May 2

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya’s main opposition party said on Monday it will resume protests over high living costs and alleged election fraud because of what it called the government’s lack of commitment to talks.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga halted nationwide demonstrations in early April after an appeal from President William Ruto, who agreed to talks and to reform the election commission – one of the opposition’s main demands.

Thousands had taken to the streets in three marches which were marred by clashes between protesters and police. Rights groups called for calm, fearing an eruption of ethnically charged violence.

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Last week, Odinga’s Azimio La Umoja (Declaration of Unity) party said protests would resume after Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, which concluded on Friday if no progress had been made in talks.

“Today we have come to the conclusion that as we had feared, the commitment is lacking on the part of Kenya Kwanza,” Azimio said in a statement on Monday, referring to Ruto’s ruling Kenya Kwanza (Kenya First) party.

Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga, of the Azimio La Umoja (Declaration of Unity) One Kenya Alliance, attends a rally ahead of talks with President William Ruto's government on high cost of living and electoral reforms at the Kamukunji grounds of Nairobi, Kenya April 16, 2023. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi
Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga, of the Azimio La Umoja (Declaration of Unity) One Kenya Alliance, attends a rally ahead of talks with President William Ruto’s government on high cost of living and electoral reforms at the Kamukunji grounds of Nairobi, Kenya April 16, 2023. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi

There was no immediate comment from Ruto or his party. On Sunday, Ruto condemned Odinga’s threats to resume protests and asked Azimio to give him time to turn around the economy.

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The protesters have accused Ruto of mismanagement, while his supporters have accused Odinga of using anger over rising prices, a global phenomenon, to press for political concessions and a possible role in government.

The government has also insisted last year’s national elections were fair.

Azimio said it remained committed to dialogue, but it accused the government of failing to bring down the cost of flour, fuel, electricity and school fees and objected to the make-up of Kenya Kwanza’s negotiating team.

The next protest on May 2 would be confined to the capital Nairobi, Azimio said.

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