Home News Kenya protests weaken but demand for president’s resignation remains strong

Kenya protests weaken but demand for president’s resignation remains strong

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Protesters returned to Kenya’s streets on Thursday, with some demanding the resignation of President William Ruto, despite his announcement of his resignation the day before. Waive the tax bill The incident sparked mass demonstrations and left nearly twenty people dead.

The crowds in the capital, Nairobi, were much smaller than on Tuesday, when tens of thousands of protesters flooded the city center as lawmakers debated and passed the controversial legislation. That demonstration turned violent as people Rushed into the building and set fire to part of itHuman rights groups say at least 23 people were killed and more than 300 injured. Police use tear gas And fired bullets at them.

There was a heavy police and military presence across the capital on Thursday, with officers in cars, trucks and on horseback guarding approaches to parliament, the presidential palace and several streets in the city center. Much of the central business district remained closed as police chased and fired tear gas at small crowds waving white roses.

Some Activists and Opposition political leader Urge protesters No parade On Thursday, protesters marched to the presidential palace in Nairobi amid fears of more bloodshed. But others said the killings, shootings and kidnappings of opponents of the tax hike in recent days — which activists called the bloodiest in Kenya’s recent history — would not stop them from forcing Ruto to resign.

“We will keep protesting in the streets until Ruto steps down,” said John Kimani, 25, protesting in Nairobi. “No one can stop us.”

Before the president announced on Wednesday that he would not sign the finance bill, Ruto had defended his measures as necessary to raise revenue and avoid a debt default, while the government Billions of dollars owed to creditors.

On Tuesday, protesters gathered for what they called an “occupation of parliament,” with some breaching the legislative building. Ruto called their activities “an act of treason” and said the army would be deployed to assist police in quelling the protests.

The decision to send in the armed forces was called unconstitutional, The Kenya Bar Association is suing to terminate the agreement.

“The president has not respected the general will of the people,” said Jimmy Magero, a protester in Kisumu, an opposition stronghold city on Lake Victoria. “If we feel enough is enough, he cannot rule us by force.”

this Kenyan youth-led protests Opponents last week began arguing over whether the bill would significantly increase the cost of living. Even though Ruto’s ruling coalition scrapped some of the proposed new taxes, many activists and opposition members of parliament voted down the bill.

Government spokesman Isaac Mwaura called on Kenyans to stop taking to the streets on Thursday. “Let’s not destabilize ourselves by holding protests and thereby help those who do not wish well for our country,” he said. In a statement“Kenya is the only country we have.”

But many were not deterred.

In Kisumu, dozens of protesters tried to march to the presidential palace but were blocked by police. Most shops in downtown Kisumu were closed, traffic was paralyzed and police set up roadblocks to prevent demonstrators from entering some main streets.

Similar protests broke out in the port city of Mombasa, with demonstrators chanting “Ruto must go”. Protesters also blocked the Migori-Kisii highway in the west of the country, burning tires and throwing stones at police.

According to the Kenya Bar Association, the umbrella organization for the country’s lawyers, as of Wednesday, about 50 young Kenyans had been kidnapped. As of Thursday, law enforcement officials had released some of the kidnapped, but Several others have Missingsaid Faith Odhiambo, president of the Bar Association.

Vice President Rigati Gachagua has blamed the escalation in violence on the National Intelligence Agency, which he said on Wednesday night had not informed the president of the anger in the streets and called for the resignation of its chief, Nordin Haji.

But observers say the ongoing protests stem from Public anger against Mr Ruto is growing Since taking office in 2022.

Although Ruto campaigned on a platform of alleviating challenges faced by the poor, his government has increased taxes, eliminated subsidies and raised electricity prices. He has also imposed several taxes on wages, but the courts have either suspended them or ruled them unconstitutional.

After Ruto withdrew the bill on Wednesday, The International Monetary Fund said It is “committed to working with Kenya to chart a path for strong, sustainable and inclusive growth”.

But Kenyan protesters’ anger at the IMF has found another supporter: Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Wednesday said The “austerity conditions recommended by the IMF have exacerbated the economic hardships faced by Kenyan citizens.”

She added: “These measures often disproportionately affect the most vulnerable.”

Odera Wycliffe contributed reporting from Kisumu. Mohammed Ahmed From Mombasa.

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