Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has vowed to go to court over what he claims was an attempted murder ahead of his latest anti-government protests.
He also condemned the point-blank firing of tear gas canisters at journalists as “an act of primitive intolerance”.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, the 78-year-old presidential candidate spoke more about his grievances with last year’s election — a defeat upheld by Kenya’s Supreme Court — than about rising prices and other pain affecting Kenyans Economic issues.
Mr Odinga, known for his prominent role in the fight for multiparty democracy decades ago, warned on Friday that President William Ruto’s government should not try to declare the current protests a illegal.
He spoke before heading to Kisumu, his stronghold in western Kenya, which has also been rocked by demonstrations.
The independent policing watchdog said it was investigating four instances of police shooting and killing protesters since the demonstrations began — Mr Odinga said his party was still counting the casualties — and former president Uhuru The private property of the Uhuru Kenyatta family was attacked.
Police Inspector Japhet Koome said one officer died and 20 people were seriously injured after Thursday’s protests.
Diplomats, human rights groups and religious leaders expressed shock that Kenya’s deadly 2007 post-election violence was still fresh in the memory of many, and the African Union called for dialogue.
Mr. Odinga said there was an assassination attempt on Thursday as he was riding around Nairobi neighborhoods to rally thousands of residents. He showed the Associated Press dents on his armored vehicle, which he said were left by bullets.
“We could hear gunshots and we thought they were shooting into the air, but we heard cars being hit multiple times,” he said.
“That’s when I decided to hide and lay on my seat. There was no question that my intent was basically murder, an attempt on my life, which was unfortunate.
“So if the car hadn’t been armored, the story would have been different.”
Next to his official car were two escort cars with shattered rear windows. The car still smelled strongly of tear gas.
With the chaos over, Kenya’s president is elsewhere in Nairobi, promoting the country as a “regional investment destination” at a summit of the American Chamber of Commerce.
Mr Ruto last commented on the protests during a visit to Europe on Tuesday, when he said Kenyans must abide by the rule of law.
Mr Odinga said he had not been in contact with Mr Ruto since the protests began. “We said we were ready to negotiate terms, but the other side was dismissive, they didn’t listen,” he said.
Mr Odinga said anti-government protests would continue on Monday and Thursday until the government listened to the opposition’s demands on last year’s elections and the economy.
“We’re saying the high cost of living can’t wait. Kenyans are suffering badly and we’re saying the subsidies should be restored now,” he said, referring to the end of popular fuel and maize subsidies by Mr Ruto’s government.