The president says he ‘will not accept violence’ as the opposition calls for three days of protests from Wednesday.
Kenyan President William Ruto has said the government will not allow the opposition protests to take place next week after two visits killing demonstrations.
More than 300 people were arrested prior to this week’s meetingsbut the party of the main opposition leader, Raila Odinga, has called for three days of protests from Wednesday against the tax hikes that Ruto signed into law last month.
Ruto, who defeated Odinga in the August election, said on Friday that he “cannot accept chaos” in the country.
“Protests will never happen again in our country of Kenya. What they have planned for Wednesday will not be possible,” he told supporters in Nakuru district.
Ruto promised to be a leader of the poor in the run-up to last year’s election, but his opponents say the tax hike will hurt Kenyans who are already struggling to afford essentials such as maize flour.
Odinga, who says the presidential election was “stolen”, has sparked controversy this year against a government he has called illegitimate and causing a financial crisis.
“I want to tell Raila Odinga that the elections ended on August 8 last year,” Ruto said. “You don’t want the leadership of our country to shed blood, die and destroy property. There is no way you can change Kenya through the path you have taken. “
Odinga has contested and failed to win five presidential elections but has secured key government positions in the past by negotiating with incumbents during turbulent times.
This week, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), an independent body created by parliament, called for an investigation into reports of theft, vandalism and police brutality, warning that the country is teetering “on the brink of chaos”. The riots have killed at least nine people, according to KNCHR.
Police have been accused of an excessive response and criticized for using tear gas on civilians, but the government has said it will not allow riots and looting to go unchecked.
Each day of the fair costs about 3 billion dollars ($21.8m), according to the Kenya Private Sector Alliance.
The protests have attracted international attention.
The spokesperson of the United Nations Human Rights Office, Jeremy Laurence, said on Friday that it was “deeply concerned about the violence that has spread, and the cases of the use of force inappropriately or without limits, including the use of firearms, by the police during the protests in Kenya”.