By Katharine Houreld
NAIROBI (Reuters) - Police beat anti-corruption protesters with batons and fired volleys of tear gas to disperse them in Kenya's capital on Thursday, Reuters witnesses said.
Hundreds of people rallied in the center of Nairobi in response to reports in the local media and accusations by the opposition about graft and abuse of funds in public healthcare. The Health Ministry dismissed the charges.
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The government of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is expected to seek a second term in office in next year's election, made a campaign pledge to clamp down on corruption. Opponents say he has been slow to act and failed to stop high-level graft.
"We supported the government before, but they let us down. Children are dying in hospitals because of corruption," said Beatrice Shiko, mother of two, who wore a red T-shirt with the slogan "Act on corruption or resign".
She joined others who sang as they marched towards parliament, before police fired volleys of tear gas and officers in riot gear charged the crowd, beating some with batons.
Many fled, some of them taking off their T-shirts that bore anti-corruption slogans as they ran away.
Corruption is seen as a major deterrent to investors in the East African nation and a daily frustration to ordinary citizens. It is expected to be a focus for debate in next year's elections for the presidency, parliament and regional posts.
Western donors have previously called for restraint by Kenyan police, who beat protesters attending other political demonstrations earlier this year.
(Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Andrew Heavens)