Home News Live updates: Kenyan police open fire on protesters, causing casualties

Live updates: Kenyan police open fire on protesters, causing casualties


Kenyan lawmakers passed a controversial finance bill on Tuesday even as thousands of demonstrators flooded the streets around parliament in the capital, Nairobi, hoping to persuade the government to scrap tax increases that critics say will make life difficult for millions of people.

Police used tear gas to prevent protesters from approaching parliament and fired live rounds. Two injured people fell to the ground.

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

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.

President William Ruto has pledged to deliver for the poor, but critics say his government is instead tainted by profligacy.Credit…Pool photo by Urs Flueeler

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.

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 draped in Kenyan flags and blowing whistles filled the streets on Tuesday as lawmakers in parliament quickly debated and passed the proposed amendments.

Observers say the protests Mentored by young people Using social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, they have launched a leaderless movement that has inspired an entire nation. Young Kenyans say their movement transcends class, tribe or race to achieve economic security and social equality for millions, something that remains an elusive dream for them.

In addition to organizing protests in nearly three dozen counties in Kenya, young people have also transformed the bill into Multiple local languages and Using the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT They crowdsourced the contact information of legislators and urged voters to call them about the bill.

They also confronted officials at public gatherings and churches to express their displeasure, and carried coffins to the offices of some lawmakers who supported the bill.

On Saturday night, they called on nightclubs across Kenya to play the national anthem in protest against the finance bill, and on Sunday they Urge church leaders and congregants arrive Expressing Rejection The measure.

“For too long, politicians have underestimated our power, energy and passion,” said content creator Muchiri Mike, 25. “We are now asking questions and demanding answers, and they are amazed at this revolution happening on their doorstep.”

Government officials accused Unspecified foreign power Incitement to protest. Kimani Ichung’wah, the majority leader in parliament, believes that these protesters are just privileged young people who carry iPhones, take Ubers to protests, and then eat at KFC.

Protesters disputed that characterization. “It’s not about how we protest, it’s about why we take to the streets,” said Anita Barasa, 19, who TikTok Videos The speech about the demonstrations gained a lot of followers. “They are trying to divert people’s attention from our demands, but we cool kids see that our future is not bright and want to make changes.”

As tensions over the bill have grown over the past few days, some politicians have praised young protesters for their keen interest in the country’s future. President Ruto says he is ‘proud’ of protesting youths and pledged to “engage in dialogue so that together we can build a great nation.”

But 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.”

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