Protests in Kenya last Monday descended into violence

Protesters threw stones at police in Kenya's capital and attackers set fire to an office run by the president's party in a western town on Thursday during a third wave of demonstrations organised by his opponents.

Thousands joined marches called by opposition leader Raila Odinga against high living costs and alleged fraud in last year's vote. The government has said the vote was fair, defended its economic record and called for the protests to stop.

Violence also marred Monday's protests, and the first demonstrations the Monday before that, prompting pleas for calm from civic leaders who said they feared a descent into ethnically-charged violence.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua urged protesters to go home on Thursday. "We are telling our elder Raila Odinga, the only way to get into government is through the ballot."

Earlier in the day, Odinga rode through Nairobi's Pipeline neighbourhood in a convoy with other opposition leaders, as hundreds of supporters marched alongside, waving twigs, saucepans and empty packets of flour.

Steve Odhiambo, a 31-year-old unemployed graduate, said he was demonstrating over the vote, joblessness and high food prices.

"We want Raila to tell us (to protest) daily... we won't relent. Even night - we are very ready," Odhiambo said. Odinga has called for protests every Monday and Thursday.

The price of 2kg of maize flour, a staple, increased to 179.98 shillings ($1.36) in February, up from 134.79 in April 2022.

Kenya's inflation rose to 9.2% year-on-year in February from 9.0% a month earlier, largely driven by food and transport prices.

The protesters have accused President William 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 Pipeline procession was mostly peaceful, a Reuters reporter following it said, but some threw stones at a police station, leading officers to fire tear gas.

Odinga said his car was hit by live bullets, an assertion which Reuters could not verify. The national police spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment and the interior ministry spokesperson referred Reuters to police.

In Mathare, a poor neighbourhood in Nairobi, protesters used improvised catapults to launch stones at police in riot gear, footage on Kenyan television showed.

The offices of Ruto's United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party were set ablaze in the western town of Siaya, the party's secretary general, Cleophas Malala, said.

He blamed Odinga's supporters. Odinga's spokesperson Dennis Onyango accused Malala of "ethnic profiling", saying he had assumed the attackers were Odinga supporters because they were from his ethnic group.

Siaya county police commander Michael Nyaga declined to comment on the incident.

Odinga, who has run for president five times, challenged Ruto's victory in August's election, but the Supreme Court upheld the result unanimously.

($1 = 132.1000 Kenyan shillings)