Willliam Ruto withdraws Kenya’s finance bill after deadly protests

Kenyan President William Ruto said he will withdraw a finance bill containing controversial tax increases after deadly protests set parliament ablaze on Tuesday.

In his address to the nation, he made it clear that Kenyans “want” nothing to do with the bill.

“I admit,” he said, adding that he would not sign the bill into law.

At least 22 people were killed in Tuesday’s protests, according to the state-sponsored Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHRC).

Mr Ruto said he would now engage in dialogue with young people who have been at the forefront of the biggest protests to occur across the country since he was elected in 2022.

“Listening deeply to those Kenyans who have loudly said they want nothing to do with this Finance Bill 2024, I concede.

“And therefore, I will not sign the 2024 Finance Bill and then it will be withdrawn. The people have spoken,” he said in a televised address.

The bill was passed by parliament on Tuesday, despite nationwide protests against it.

Protesters stormed parliament, vandalized the interior and burned parts of the complex. The ceremonial mace, symbolizing the power of the legislature, was stolen.

Mr Ruto initially responded with defiance.

He ordered the deployment of the army, saying “violence and anarchy” would not be tolerated.

But he climbed down on Wednesday, as public anger grew over the killing of protesters.

Wanjeri Nderu, head of the International Society for Human Rights, told the BBC that the experience during the protests was “like we were at war”, adding that police had used live ammunition even before parliament was breached.

The Catholic bishops also condemned the actions of the security forces and “sincerely called on the police not to shoot at protesters”, while also calling on protesters to remain peaceful.

The Law Society of Kenya called on international criminal investigators to help the families seek justice, saying they had reports that soldiers were fighting protesters in parliament.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply saddened by reports of deaths and injuries – including to journalists and medical staff”.

He also called on the Kenyan government to “exercise restraint” and called for all protests to take place peacefully.

The protests come despite the government scrapping some of the most controversial proposals in the bill amid protests last week.

Protesters demanded the entire bill be scrapped and Mr Ruto has now agreed to do so.

The original bill proposed taxes on bread, cooking oil, mobile money services, specialist hospitals and motor vehicles – all of which Kenyans said would worsen the cost of living crisis. active.


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