Kenya's President William Ruto said he was ready for "a conversation" with thousands of young protesters who held nationwide demonstrations this week to oppose proposed tax increases, a presidency official said Sunday.

Led largely by Gen-Z Kenyans who have livestreamed the demonstrations, the protests caught the government off-guard, as discontent mounts over Ruto's economic policies.

"Our young people have stepped forward to engage on the affairs of their country. They've done their democratic duty, to stand and be recognised. I'm proud of them," Ruto said in quotes shared by presidency spokesman Hussein Mohamed on X, formerly Twitter.

"We'll have a conversation with you to identify your issues and work together as a nation," he added, making his first public comments on the protests.

Two people have died and dozens of others were injured in Thursday's demonstrations in the capital Nairobi, according to rights campaigners.

The demonstrations were mostly peaceful, but officers fired tear gas and water cannon throughout the day in an attempt to disperse protesters near parliament.

The rallies began in Nairobi on Tuesday before spreading nationwide, with protesters calling for a national strike on June 25.

Ruto's administration has defended the proposed levies as necessary for filling its coffers and cutting reliance on external borrowing.