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East AfricaNews

Fresh Protests Rock Ruto’s Govt, Despite Declining to Sign Tax Proposal

One of the protesters being arrested by the army during today's fresh Protests in Nairobi. [Courtesy photo by Reuters]

Nairobi, Kenya – Police in Kenya fired tear gas on protesters as a fresh wave of demonstrations swept the country, despite President William Ruto’s U-turn on controversial tax plans.

Fresh protests dubbed “One Million People March” began Thursday, with demonstrators calling for roads leading to the capital Nairobi to be blocked. Others threatened to occupy the State House, the president’s office, and the official residence.

In a surprise move on Wednesday, Ruto said he would not sign the finance bill, saying he had been “listening keenly” to the Kenyan people. He had been facing escalating protests over the bill, with a civil society organization saying at least 23 people had died in clashes.

But so far his move has failed to quell the demonstrations. Security forces have set up roadblocks around routes leading to the State House while other parts of the capital city have been fortified with heavy police presence.

“It’s more than about the finance bill now,” Maria, a Kenyan protestor from Nairobi told CNN.

“(They’re) killing us as young people for what? We come in peace,” she added

What the largely youthful protesters now want varies. Some have called on President Ruto to resign for failing to withdraw the unpopular bill much earlier to save the lives lost.

Others are seeking justice for the deceased protesters and demanding the recall of lawmakers who voted in support of the finance bill.

Civic groups such as the Law Society of Kenya are calling for the removal of Kenya’s inspector general of police and Nairobi’s regional police commander after officers were accused of reportedly shooting dead protesters.

Kenya, East Africa’s dominant economy, has grappled with escalating living costs that have spiked food prices and other commodities. The nation also owes billions of dollars in foreign and local debts, spending a sizeable chunk of its revenue repaying its creditors.

“I am not going to preside over a bankrupt country, I am not going to preside over a country that is in debt distress,” President Ruto said last month while defending his plans.

Derrick Kanalo
the authorDerrick Kanalo
News Reporter/ Editor
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