Protests in Kenya Over Proposed Finance Bill Turns Fatal

For weeks, Kenyans have been taking to the streets in protest of a planned budget law that will raise taxes on almost every product and service, from bread to auto insurance. Protesters threatened to keep protesting until the whole measure was removed, but President William Ruto pressed for large tax hikes to balance the budget. Some of the most burdensome elements of the bill were deleted during the demonstrations, but Rufo demanded more tax increases.

On June 25th, police in Kenya opened fire on anti-tax demonstrators who tried to assault Parliament, killing five and wounding thirty.

As parliament voted to approve the budget, mayhem broke out in Nairobi. Protesters numbering in the thousands rushed the parliament building, separating only to let lawmakers who had voted against the measure leave without incident.

A planned financial law in Kenya will raise taxes on a wide variety of products and services, which has sparked widespread protests. Despite President William Ruto’s insistence that significant tax hikes were required to balance the budget, certain bill elements were eliminated during the demonstrations.

As legislators voted to approve the budget plan on Tuesday, mayhem broke out in Nairobi. There were forty-five wounded protestors, seven of them women, when thousands of them rushed the parliament building. Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s 64-year-old sister Auma has spoken out against the demonstrations, arguing that young Kenyans are justly demanding their rights.

While attempting to provide life-saving measures to the injured, the Kenya Red Cross stated that its cars were assaulted, resulting in injuries to several staff members and drivers. Protesters targeted ambulances on the belief that they contained lawmakers who had voted in favor of the tax increase. Before being evacuated down a tunnel, some lawmakers who were in favor of taxes sought refuge in the parliament building’s basement.

President Ruto promised to respond swiftly and comprehensively by deploying armed troops. Violence and disorder, he said, were being planned, funded, orchestrated, and abetted by those who wanted to terrorize the people, their representatives in elected office, and the institutions set up by the constitution. Ruto was pressured by his opponents to either step down or pull the contentious budget law.