Despite a planned mass rally that was stopped by the government, Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga told ABC News Wednesday that his party would "continue again" with rallies planned for the end of the week.
Odinga said that the Orange Democratic Movement Party continues to receive mass support from Kenyans who he says are still angry at the results of the country's presidential election last month. ODM has accused President Mwai Kibaki's party of rigging the Dec. 27 election. More than 600 people have been killed and 250,000 Kenyans displaced because of post-election violence.
Odinga has called for protest rallies in 42 cities throughout Kenya, but the government has declared all political rallies illegal, saying they will incite more violence.
"This is an illegitimate presidency," said Odinga. "Kenyans must ensure return to legitimate rule."
Through most of the day, Nairobi remained relatively calm, including the slum areas of Kibera and Mathare, where most of the post-election violence has occurred. When opposition leaders attempted to march with several hundred supporters to Uhuru Park in the city center, they were stopped by police, who fired tear gas on them. The police also fired tear gas at journalists, with many saying the police tried to intimidate them.
One police officer, who was afraid to be identified, told ABC News that the order to fire tear gas at journalists came from the police commander in charge of the operation but was not supported by most of the forces.
"We were shocked that we were supposed to fire tear gas at journalists," he said. "Everybody was sad about that."
There were also reports of violence and unrest in other Kenyan cities. In the western city of Kisumu, an Odinga stronghold, at least 1,000 young men protested and one man was killed. Parts of the tourist town Mombasa were shut down due to police pushing back protesters using tear gas and water cannons.
New York-based Human Rights Watch has called for the government to lift the ban on political protests, and Odinga today said the government is "imposing a state of siege" on Kenyans.
But police spokesman Eric Kiraithe told The Associated Press that sparse attendance at today's planned rallies were more a result of Kenyans wanting to "go on with their daily businesses" than the events being stopped by the government.
"You can't demonstrate every day," said Kiraithe. "People want to send their children to school. They want to put bread on their table. Political issues can be solved politically."