Finance Bill Aside! Kenyan Protesters Call For President Ruto’s Resignation Amidst Rising Tensions

Finance Bill Aside! Kenyan Protesters Call For President Ruto’s Resignation Amidst Rising Tensions

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By Spy Uganda Correspondent

Kampala: Police in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, have fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators who rallied in another day of protests sparked by a controversial bill that would have raised taxes on essential goods.

Hundreds of people on Thursday took to the streets to call for President William Ruto’s removal, a day after he caved into young protesters’ demands to withdraw the deeply unpopular tax hike bill.

As protesters headed to Nairobi’s central business district, soldiers were deployed and police in anti-riot gear blocked access along roads leading to Ruto’s office at State House and Parliament of Kenya. Turnout by demonstrators was lower than in previous days after mass protests turned violent, killing more than 20 people, according to human rights groups.

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The Kenya National Commission for Human Rights (KNCHR) said on social media on Thursday that it had received credible reports of live fire being used against “civilians protesting across the country, resulting in some deaths”. It did not specify where the alleged incidents took place.

Hundreds of protesters also rallied in the port city of Mombasa and the opposition bastion of Kisumu, where some blocked roads and lit fires, TV footage showed. Protests were also reported in Kisii and Migori.

Seven people – two women and five men – sustained gunshot wounds in Homa Bay Town in western Kenya, Citizen TV news reported. The outlet said they were shot by police while protesting and then rushed to Homa Bay County Teaching and Referral Hospital.

The youth-led protests kicked off last week and caught the authorities off-guard. Ruto’s government ricocheted between taking a tough line on the unrest and calling for dialogue.

On Wednesday, the president declined to sign the tax changes into law and withdrew the bill.

“The people have spoken,” he said, adding that he would seek “engagement with the young people of our nation”.

But protesters said they would still rally in memory of those killed in the demonstrations, criticising Ruto’s dramatic reversal as a case of too little, too late.

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