(Nairobi) Kenyan police on Monday fired tear gas in Nairobi at the convoy of opposition leader Raila Odinga, who called on his supporters for weekly protests against inflation and the government, on a day of clashes between the two sides.

This is the first major unrest since the coming to power of William Ruto, after the very close presidential election last August, the result disputed by his unfortunate rival Odinga who continues to affirm that it was ” stolen” and that the Ruto government is “illegitimate”.

“Every Monday there will be a strike, there will be a demonstration. The war has started, it will not end until Kenyans get their rights,” said 78-year-old Odinga.

Earlier, the police had fired tear gas and used water cannons against his convoy.

Mr. Odinga’s spokesman, Dennis Onyango, accused AFP of firing live ammunition at Mr. Odinga’s car, without it being possible to independently verify this information.

“It was a very successful day” despite “prior intimidation reinforced by a large police presence”, said Mr. Onyango late in the evening. “The mobilization will be even stronger next week,” he concluded.

Demonstrations in the capital against inflation, which rose to 9.2% year on year in February, were banned by the authorities on Sunday for failure to meet the filing deadline.

Clashes erupted between demonstrators, who threw stones, and security forces who used tear gas and water cannons in some neighborhoods of the capital and in at least one other city, correspondents from the AFP.

Protest organizers had planned to march to State House, the presidential palace, in central Nairobi, where around 20 protesters were arrested, including two parliamentarians from Mr Odinga’s party, minority leader Stewart Madzayo in the Senate, and MP Opiyo Wandayi.

“We came here peacefully, but they threw tear gas at us,” protester Charles Oduor said. “They lie to us every day. Where’s the cheap cornmeal they promised? Where are the youth jobs they promised? All they do is hire their friends,” the 21-year-old added.

In Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum, protesters set fire to tires and police used water cannons.

Clashes also took place in Kisumu, in the west of the country, another stronghold of Raila Odinga.

“Our victory has been stolen from us and we are determined to get it back. We cannot sit idly by as life gets harder and harder. We want Raila at State House ” [the residence of the president, editor’s note], launched a protester in Kisumu, Kevin Ojwang.

In addition to price hikes, Kenyans are suffering from the sharp fall in the shilling against the US dollar and a record drought that has plunged millions into starvation.

“Life is so hard. Look at these young men and women, we have no jobs, people are losing their jobs. That’s why we come to talk about our rights,” says Henry Juma, 26, a shoe shiner.

Some criticize the protests, however. “We are six months after the election, why the protests? Raila should retire peacefully,” said one of them, Jackson Mwangi.

Vice President Rigathi Gachagua asked “organizers to reflect” and “to put an end to the chaos so that those who have not opened their businesses and stores do so this afternoon”. The protests have already cost 2 billion shillings (about C$21 million), he claimed.

Many businesses in Nairobi were closed before the protests and some companies had asked their employees to favor telework.

The head of state had risen this weekend against calls to demonstrate from his opponent. “You are not going to threaten us with ultimatums, chaos and impunity. We will not allow it,” said William Ruto, 56, asking Raila Odinga to act through “legal and constitutional” means.

The appeal brought after the presidential election by Raila Odinga, who was running for the fifth time at the head of the country and complained of fraud, was rejected by the Supreme Court.