Kenya's Ruto seeks to reassure investors after opposition protests

Thursday March 23 2023
People run in Nairobi’s Kibera during demos

People run in Nairobi’s Kibera area on March 20,2023 after police threw tear gas during protests called by Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG



Kenya's President William Ruto on Wednesday vowed to rein in "impunity" and sought to reassure investors in the wake of violent opposition protests against his government.

Hundreds of people took to the streets in the capital Nairobi and other parts of Kenya in response to opposition leader Raila Odinga's call for a day of action over the country's severe cost of living crisis. 

Kenyans are suffering from surging prices for basic necessities, as well as a sharp drop in the local shilling against the US dollar and a punishing drought that has left millions hungry.

Leader of Kenya’s opposition Raila Odinga

Leader of Kenya’s opposition coalition Azimio la Umoja Raila Odinga speaks to supporters during a mass rally on March 20, 2023. PHOTO | YASUYOSHI CHIBA | AFP

Secure and conducive


"I want to give my commitment that the business and investment environment in Kenya is secure and conducive on a sustainable basis," Ruto said at an event at the country's bourse. 

On Monday, police fired tear gas and water cannon against demonstrators — some of whom were hurling rocks and burning tyres in street battles against officers in full riot gear.

More than 200 people were arrested and a student was killed in western Kenya. 

"Through the rule of law, the government will take robust measures to honour and respect the rights of all and demonstrate that no one is above the law by decisively combating impunity, lawlessness and disorder," Ruto said.

Kenya’s President William Ruto

Kenya’s President William Ruto arrives at the Nairobi Securities Exchange grounds on, March 22, 2023. He sought to reassure investors in the wake of violent opposition protests. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

More protest rallies

However, Odinga, who narrowly lost last year's presidential election to Ruto, has vowed that the rallies will go ahead.

He has called for further protests to be held on Mondays and Thursdays from next week, with his party officials on Wednesday notifying the police of their plans.

Police had on Sunday said the demonstrations in Nairobi were banned because a request for authorisation had not been made in time.

Monday's protest proved costly, with Nairobi losing more than half its daily revenue as people kept away from the central business district, the city's governor Johnson Sakaja said.  

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said the demonstrations cost Kenya $15 million.