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Kenya risks tumbling into a dark and dangerous abyss. That warning comes from two national newspapers, which issued a rare joint editorial today. The country has been hit by a wave of opposition-led protests over the cost of living and a rise in taxes. Michael Kaloki reports from the capital, Nairobi.

MICHAEL KALOKI, BYLINE: Kenya is in the grip of another wave of disruption and protest. What started out as a call from opposition leader Raila Odinga to protest against last year's election results has morphed into frequently violent demonstrations against the rise in food and fuel prices and a series of tax hikes.


KALOKI: And protest is often met with force from the police - teargas and rubber bullets. Nearly 30 people have died in the last few weeks of violence. Kenya's president, William Ruto, has called for calm.


PRESIDENT WILLIAM RUTO: Every part of Kenya have said we cannot sabotage our economy using violence and destruction of business and destruction of property. All of us must protect our country.

KALOKI: (Non-English language spoken) - we don't want protests, his supporters chant. Ruto came into office last year promising to prioritize the poor. He styled himself as a hustler, someone who seeks to rise from a modest background. His message had mass appeal in a nation with high youth unemployment. But like many other countries, Kenya's economy is still struggling to recover in a post-pandemic world that has been hit by a rise in the cost of living as a result of the war in Ukraine. And people here are feeling the strain.

ALEX ONYANGO: (Non-English language spoken).

KALOKI: "It's not the fault of the youth that are on the streets," says Nairobi resident Alex Onyango. "It's the frustrations of life. We don't have any employment. That's why we are finding ourselves in this situation." This week, opposition leader Odinga called for an additional three days of nationwide protests that have so far seen hundreds of people arrested. According to some estimates, Kenya is losing more than $20 million a day as a result of the disruption. Now, many in one of Africa's most stable and prosperous democracies are hoping for a quick end to the chaos and a long-term solution to its economic woes. For NPR News, I'm Michael Kaloki in Nairobi, Kenya. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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