US urges restraint, respect for protests in Kenya

A demonstrator hurls back a tear gas canister towards police officers in Kibera, Nairobi on March 27,2023 during the anti-government protest.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

The United States on Tuesday urged restraint from all sides in ally Kenya and called for respect for peaceful demonstrations as opposition protests in defiance of a ban turned violent.

"We encourage political leaders, protesters and all parties to refrain from violence and rhetoric that could incite violence," State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

"We call on government security forces to act with restraint while protecting public safety and property," he said.

"The rights to freedoms of expression and association and the right to peaceful assembly are core tenets to democracy."

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has called for protests every Monday and Tuesday, accusing President William Ruto of stealing last year's election and failing to control the surging cost of living.

Police have fired tear gas and a water cannon to break up protests with at least two people dead since the demonstrations kicked off last week.

The United States has long considered Kenya a key partner in Africa and in recent years has praised the commitment to democracy.

Kenya is invited this week to a summit of democracies led by US President Joe Biden which aims to counter growing authoritarianism.