Kenyan Anti-Tax Protesters Storm Parliament: Fire, Live Bullets, and Deaths Reported

Kenyan Anti-Tax Protesters
Protesters climb a Kenyan police water cannon truck during a strike against tax hikes in Nairobi on 25 June 2024. (LUIS TATO / AFP)

Overview

Parts of Kenya’s parliamentary compound caught fire on Tuesday as Kenyan anti-tax protesters stormed the government building. Witnesses reported seeing multiple bodies after police used live ammunition to disperse the crowd.

The Incident

Protesters Overwhelm Security

Protesters, angered by newly passed tax measures, overwhelmed police forces and stormed Kenya’s parliament. A witness confirmed that sections of the building were ablaze, and paramedics reported at least 50 people injured by gunfire. The Kenya Human Rights Commission observed police shooting four protesters, resulting in one death.

Police Response

Police employed tear gas, water cannons, and live bullets in an attempt to control the protesters. Despite these efforts, protestors managed to breach police lines and enter the parliamentary compound.

Context

New Tax Measures

Earlier on Tuesday, Kenya’s parliament approved a controversial finance bill introducing a series of new taxes. The bill aims to raise an additional $2.7 billion to manage the country’s heavy debt load, with interest payments consuming 37% of annual revenue. Despite government concessions to scrap new taxes on bread, cooking oil, car ownership, and financial transactions, public dissatisfaction remained high.

Protest Dynamics

The protests began peacefully, with a festival-like atmosphere, but escalated as crowds grew and police responded with tear gas and live ammunition. Demonstrations also occurred in Eldoret, Mombasa, Kisumu, and Garissa.

Broader Impact

Kenyan Anti-Tax Protesters: National Reactions

In Nairobi, protesters chanted “Ruto must go” and sang in Swahili, calling for President William Ruto’s resignation. The protests, initially focused on the finance bill, have broadened to include demands for the president’s resignation.

Government Response

President Ruto praised the peaceful nature of initial protests and expressed willingness to engage with protesters. However, the opposition boycotted the parliamentary vote, and public outcry against the new taxes has only intensified.

Financial Implications

The finance ministry warned that amendments to the bill could create a $1.56 billion hole in the 2024/25 budget, necessitating either spending cuts or further tax hikes.

Conclusion

The situation in Kenya remains volatile as protests against new tax measures escalate. The use of live ammunition by police has intensified public anger and increased calls for political change. The government faces significant challenges in addressing both the financial crisis and the growing public unrest.


This is a developing story.

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