Kenyan activists call for new protests demanding Ruto’s resignation

On Friday, Kenyan activists called for renewed protests, strikes, and sit-ins demanding President William Ruto’s resignation. This follows nationwide demonstrations that forced him to retract proposed tax hikes.

Ruto withdrew the contentious finance bill on Wednesday, pledging to heed the concerns of young people. This decision came after parliament was briefly stormed and set on fire, resulting in at least 23 deaths during clashes with police.

Two more people were killed and seven others wounded by gunfire in smaller protests on Thursday, as the army was deployed to support the police.

Despite Ruto’s retraction, many protesters felt it was too late. A pamphlet circulated online on Friday called for seven days of activism, including nationwide strikes and road blockages on July 2 and July 4.

“He has proven himself unfit as a Kenyan and failed his constitutional mandate to protect the Kenyan people,” the pamphlet read, using the popular hashtag #RUTOMUSTGO. “We will not relent until William Ruto unconditionally resigns.”

Ruto faces the most serious threat to his two-year-old presidency, as the youth-led protest movement has escalated from online criticism of tax hikes to mass rallies demanding his ouster.

On Friday, Ruto directed the treasury to cut spending by 346 billion Kenyan shillings ($2.69 billion) instead of raising taxes. He instructed treasury officials to fund only critical and essential services, using no more than 15% of the budget until a supplementary budget is approved.

Ruto also met with several Catholic bishops, who have strongly condemned police brutality, to find “shared solutions to the issues facing our country.”

At the funeral of Ibrahim Kamau, a 19-year-old motorbike taxi rider shot during Tuesday’s protest, Edith Wanjiku demanded justice for her son and other victims.

“Ibrahim was a calm young man, and a happy person who was never involved in crime,” she said at a Nairobi cemetery. “All I am asking is for justice to prevail.”

At Kamau’s graveside, prominent activist Boniface Mwangi said Kamau was murdered by police. “His life was cut very short,” Mwangi told Reuters. “He was unarmed, just protesting for his rights.”

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