Kenyan police fire tear gas on anti-corruption protesters

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) " Police in Kenya's capital fired tear gas Thursday on protesters demanding that the president act on rampant corruption or resign.

Police dispersed the 200 or so protesters to avoid a potential clash with a separate group that supports President Uhuru Kenyatta, central Nairobi's police chief Paul Wanjama said. Wanjama could not explain why the pro-Kenyatta group was not tear-gassed. He said there were no arrests.

Police also fired tear gas at media covering the protest.

The protests were sparked by allegations that around $50 million has been diverted from the health ministry. The government says no funds have been lost and that details reported last week by the Business Daily Newspaper are based on an incomplete audit report.

Such scandals are putting public pressure on Kenyatta, who is seeking re-election next year with the pledge to eradicate corruption. Kenya is among the world's most corrupt countries, ranking 139 out of 168 countries in a 2015 index by Transparency International.

Kenyans are tired of corruption in East Africa's biggest economy and want change, said Boniface Mwangi, an organizer of the event.

"It's a shameful day when police are unleashed on peaceful protesters," he said, adding that they were presenting a petition to Kenyatta's office outlining the ways he can fight corruption.

Another protester, Githuku Ndungi, said: "Corruption has been happening in this country for many years, but where it has reached now is the apex and I don't think we can take it anymore."

Separately, parliament continued a public inquiry into the alleged theft of $16 million by businessmen in collusion with officials of the ministry of devolution and planning.

Philip Kinisu, the former chairman of the country's anti-corruption watchdog, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, said earlier this year that Kenya loses 30 percent of its budget to corruption.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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