Kenya backtracks on tax bill after deadly protests


Kenyan President William Ruto has backtracked on a contentious tax-hiking finance bill, after street protests on June 25 left at least 13 people dead and 150 injured as police opened fire with live ammunition. The youth-led protests were triggered by a range of proposed new taxes that critics say will increase the financial burden on families already struggling with rising prices.

Crowds of mostly young people took over the central business district in the capital, Nairobi, and then stormed parliament, setting part of the building on fire. The government declared a “security emergency” and deployed the military to support the police—a move that technically requires parliamentary approval. Ruto claimed the protests had been infiltrated by organized criminals whose actions were “treasonous.”

But on June 26, in a televized address, Ruto said he would withdraw the bill, conceding that “members of the public insist on the need for us to make more concessions. The people have spoken.”

Prior to the demonstrations, Amnesty International reported that 21 social media activists had been abducted by state security agents as the government moved to curb the growing dissent.

From The New Humanitarian, June 26

Photo: Anthony Langat/The New Humanitarian