Protests in Kenya over tax raise bill, parts of Parliament set ablaze

In chaotic scenes, protesters overwhelmed police and chased them away in an attempt to storm the parliament compound. Flames could be seen coming from inside.
Protests in Kenya over tax raise bill, parts of Parliament set ablaze
Anjali Raj / Jaano Junction

Police opened fire on demonstrators trying to storm Kenya's legislature on Tuesday, with at least 10 protesters killed and sections of the parliament building set ablaze as lawmakers inside passed legislation to raise taxes.

In chaotic scenes, protesters overwhelmed police and chased them away in an attempt to storm the parliament compound. Flames could be seen coming from inside.

Police opened fire after tear gas and water cannon failed to disperse the crowds. A Reuters journalist counted the bodies of at least five protesters outside parliament.

"We want to shut down parliament and every MP should go down and resign," one protestor, Davis Tafari, trying to enter parliament, told Reuters. "We will have a new government."

Protests and clashes also took place in several other cities and towns across the country.

Parliament approved the finance bill, moving it through to a third reading by lawmakers. The next step is for the legislation to be sent to the president for signing. He can send it back to parliament if he has any objections.

Ruto won an election almost two years ago on a platform of championing Kenya's working poor, but has been caught between the competing demands of lenders such as the International Monetary Fund, which is urging the government to cut deficits to access more funding, and a hard-pressed population.

Kenyans have been struggling to cope with several economic shocks caused by the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, two consecutive years of droughts and depreciation of the currency.

The finance bill aims to raise an additional $2.7 billion in taxes as part of an effort to lighten the heavy debt load, with interest payments alone consuming 37% of annual revenue.

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Protests in Kenya over tax raise bill, parts of Parliament set ablaze

The government has already made some concessions, promising to scrap proposed new taxes on bread, cooking oil, car ownership and financial transactions. But that has not been enough to satisfy protesters.

Source: India Today

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