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Page last updated at 15:09 GMT, Saturday, 31 May 2008 16:09 UK

Clashes at Nairobi food protest

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Kenyan police have fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of people demonstrating against the soaring cost of food.

Protesters in the capital Nairobi carried placards demanding the government cut the cost of basic Kenyan staples like maize flour.

The police said the demonstration was illegal and four arrests were made.

Food prices in the east African country have risen sharply since the recent political crisis led to shortages.

December's disputed presidential election triggered violence across Kenya, leaving 1,500 people dead and some 600,000 people displaced.

Granaries and farms were set on fire, leading the government to import three million bags of maize.

Annual inflation rose to 26.6% in April from 21.8% in March, mainly because of increasing food prices.

Tom Aosa, who helped organise the demonstration in Nairobi on Saturday, said: "The government must subsidise the cost of food, it is not fair for the poor to be suffering with high food prices yet the government has not increased salaries."

Sharp increases in the cost of food have also triggered deadly riots in Somalia, Cameroon and Senegal.

The price of wheat, rice and maize has nearly doubled in the past year and many poor people in developing countries, particularly those who live in cities, are struggling to afford imported food.

World population growth, increased food consumption in emerging economies such as China, climate change and increased land being given over for biofuel production are all having an impact on the price of food.



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