Kenyan protesters vow more rallies after parliament violence

Protestors gesture after police used tear gas to disperse them during a demonstration against Kenya’s proposed finance bill 2024/2025 in Nairobi, Kenya, June 25, 2024. REUTERS/John Muchucha

Kenyan protesters are determined to continue their demonstrations against recently approved tax increases, despite a violent crackdown by police that left at least five dead and dozens injured while attempting to breach parliament.

In Nairobi, where armed police maintained a heavy presence, supporters of the protest movement, now a week old, mobilized on social media using the hashtag #tutanethursday, Swahili for “see you on Thursday.”

The movement lacks formal leadership but has gained traction through online platforms.

President William Ruto denounced the violence in a televised address, attributing the unrest to “criminals pretending to be peaceful protesters.”

His government responded by deploying the army to assist the police in handling what was termed a “security emergency,” although troops were not visibly deployed in Nairobi on Wednesday.

The protests initially centered on opposition to various tax hikes, with parliament passing revised finance legislation shortly before being breached by demonstrators. While some tax increases, such as those on bread and cooking oil, were removed from the bill, others were retained to address budgetary concerns amid pressure from international lenders like the International Monetary Fund.

Protesters had previously circulated plans to occupy parliament and the president’s office later in the week, reflecting ongoing discontent over economic policies in a country where President Ruto has been navigating between fiscal demands and public welfare concerns since his election nearly two years ago.

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