Kenyan President Has Decided Against Signing A Contentious Finance Bill That Has Reportedly Resulted In The Deaths Of At Least 23 People During Mass Protests

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Kenyan President Has Decided Against Signing A Contentious Finance Bill That Has Reportedly Resulted In The Deaths Of At Least 23 People During Mass Protests

“Having reflected on the continuing conversation regarding the content of the finance bill 2024, and listening keenly to the people of Kenya who have said loudly that they want nothing to do with this Finance Bill 2024, I concede, and therefore I will not sign the 2024 finance bill,” Ruto said during a television address Wednesday.

“The people have spoken,” Ruto said. “Following the passage of the bill, the country experienced widespread expression of dissatisfaction with the bill as passed, regrettably resulting in the loss of life, the destruction of property and desecration of constitutional institutions.”

Protesters in Kenya have affirmed their intention to proceed with a “One Million People March” on Thursday, despite Deputy President Ruto’s acceptance of their main demand to scrap the bill. A widely circulated poster on social media is urging all generations to take to the streets across the country on Thursday and block roads leading to Nairobi, the capital. Some demonstrators are also advocating for occupying Nairobi’s State House.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Ruto following the clashes, urging restraint. According to a State Department summary of their conversation, Blinken emphasized the importance of security forces showing restraint and refraining from violence. He also called for prompt investigations into allegations of human rights abuses.

Kenya, often praised for its stability, has witnessed escalating protests against the bill aimed at curbing public debt. Last week, the government reversed some tax hikes, including a proposed 16% value-added tax on bread, as well as taxes on motor vehicles, vegetable oil, and mobile money transfers. However, these concessions failed to quell protests amid rising living costs.

Violence erupted on Tuesday when security forces used tear gas and live ammunition against protesters. In Nairobi, government buildings were set ablaze, and a ceremonial mace was stolen from parliament during the chaos. Lawmakers were evacuated as police clashed with demonstrators, as reported by CNN affiliate NTV Kenya.

According to the Kenya Police Reforms Working Group (PRWG), a civil society organization, at least 23 people lost their lives in the violence. The PRWG, in a statement published by Amnesty International Kenya, alleged that police targeted young, unarmed protesters outside parliament, with the violence continuing into the night. They reported instances where police allegedly fired multiple rounds at individuals in Githurai, Nairobi, including one victim shot over 40 times between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m., well after the protest had ended.

In contrast, Ruto stated in his address that six people had died during the unrest.

 “I send my condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones in this very unfortunate manner,” Ruto added.

“There is need for us as a nation to pick up from here and go into the future,” Ruto said, adding that he would hold an engagement with the young people at the forefront of the protests to hear their ideas and proposals.

The Law Society of Kenya is calling for the resignation of Kenya’s inspector general of police and the Nairobi regional commander over officers allegedly shooting protesters.

“We saw plainclothes policemen shooting protesters as early as 11 a.m. There was a clear directive to kill protesters,” Law Society of Kenya president Faith Odhiambo alleged in an interview with CNN on Wednesday evening. “There was no intent to let the protesters move around.”

The Law Society also said the police “abducted” several prominent social media users connected to the protests, and six people remain missing.

“The reports from those who have been freed is that they were taken blindfolded and handcuffed, and they didn’t know where they were,” she told CNN, after the society secured the release of six people. “Even after they come out, most of them are quite shaken and afraid and want to go into hiding. Our message to the government is that if a country is built on fear, one day people will stop fearing. And that’s what we saw on Tuesday.”

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A young person with a passion for success and excellence to develop a professional career that encourages empowerment in the overall development of a person which is achieved through hard work. A Journalist with facts and a difference; standing by the truth all the time with interests in Science & Technology, Health, Celebrities' Lifestyle, Crimes, Education and Career Improvement.

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