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Kenyan lawmakers have passed a controversial tax increase bill despite days of protests.

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Kenyan lawmakers on Tuesday passed a controversial finance bill even as thousands of protesters marched to parliament in the capital, Nairobi, hoping to persuade the government to cancel tax increases they say will make life difficult for millions of people.

Police used tear gas to try to prevent protesters from approaching the Capitol, and live ammunition was heard at the scene. Two injured people fell to the ground at the scene.

The controversy over the bill has rocked Kenya, an East African economic powerhouse of 54 million people that has long been a pillar of stability in a volatile region. Protesters have taken to the streets in cities across the country for days. Protest against tax increases At least one person was killed and 200 were injured across the country last week. According to Amnesty International.

On Tuesday, CNN showed footage of Auma Obama, the half-sister of former US President Barack Obama, being tear-gassed while being interviewed about her opposition to the bill.

The controversial bill was introduced by President William Ruto’s government in May to boost revenue and limit borrowing in an economy facing a heavy debt burden. But Kenyans have widely criticized the legislation, saying it Adding punitive new taxes and raising other taxes Prices of various goods and services will rise, which will push up the cost of living.

The president now has two weeks to sign the bill into law or send it back to Parliament for further amendments.

Protesters in Nairobi on Tuesday.Credit…Monica Mwangi/Reuters

Ahead of Tuesday’s demonstration, several activists Famous critics The Act KidnappedThe kidnappers have not been identified publicly, but some of them are Believed to be an intelligence agentFaith Odhiambo, president of the Bar Association, said. Ms. Odhiambo later said some of the kidnapped Released.

Human rights groups have long accused successive Kenyan governments of kidnapping and torturing critics. Police did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday, but Kenya’s Chief Justice Martha Kum condemned the kidnappings. Called it a “direct attack” on the rule of law.

Last week, lawmakers scrapped some taxes, including on bread, cooking oil and cars, as demonstrators took to the streets. But protesters have decried other levies, including on imported goods, and urged the government to abandon the draft legislation.

“During these tough economic times, the government has the audacity to raise taxes, ignore our voices and mistreat us, which shows how insensitive the government is to the feelings of the people and how little they care about us,” said Kasmuel McOure, a 26-year-old musician who took part in Tuesday’s protest.

Opponents of the bill point to corruption and mismanagement of funds, accusing Luxurious lifestyle and extravagant spending They say this is characteristic of the Ruto government, which has been in office since 2022. Kenyans also accuse Ruto of breaking his campaign promises. Protecting the welfare of the poor and Benefits to Kenyans He called him a “liar”.

Opposition lawmakers in Kenya’s parliament have rejected the draft bill outright.

Protesters chanted anti-government slogans in Nairobi on Tuesday, with some climbing onto a police water cannon truck.Credit…Luis Tato/AFP—Getty Images

As protests unfolded on Tuesday, activists and critics said the abduction of some activists in the early hours of the morning showed the government was not ready for a genuine dialogue.

Several protesters, including McAuley, said they received threatening or intimidating phone calls in the days and hours before the protest and feared for their lives, but they said they would not be silenced.

Mr McEwen said: “We will insist on rejecting this finance bill no matter what they do.”

in Nairobi on Tuesday.Credit…Monica Mwangi/Reuters

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