Amid heavy police presence, Kenya starts clearing debris after protests wherein at least six died

Kenya has been rocked by massive protests for over a week in opposition to a proposed finance bill that would raise taxes as frustrations over the cost of living are simmering.
Nairobi county staff repair a street sign in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday, June 26, 2024.
Nairobi county staff repair a street sign in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. AP photo

NAIROBI: Kenyans woke up to the acrid smell of tear gas still lingering in the capital on Wednesday, a day after protesters stormed parliament amid violent demonstrations over a controversial tax plan during which at least six people were killed.

As the day began, there were no reports of violence. Police and soldiers patrolled the streets as city workers began cleaning up debris. Parliament, the city hall and the Supreme Court were cordoned off with tape reading "Crime Scene Do Not Enter."

The military was deployed overnight to support police on as President William Ruto called the events treasonous and vowed to quash the unrest "at whatever cost."

Kenya has been rocked by massive protests for over a week in opposition to a proposed finance bill that would raise taxes as frustrations over the cost of living are simmering. Many young people who helped vote Ruto into power with cheers for his promises of economic relief have taken to the streets to object to the pain of reforms.

Thousands of protesters stormed Kenya's parliament Tuesday, burning parts of the building while legislators fled. Police responded with gunfire and several protesters were killed. The city mortuary told The Associated Press that it received six bodies from police on Tuesday.

Authorities said police fired over 700 blanks to disperse protesters in the suburb of Githurai, east of the capital Nairobi. Videos of gunfire piercing the night air were shared online.

Nairobi county staff repair a street sign in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday, June 26, 2024.
Kenya's Parliament on fire as protests against finance bill escalate

More than 100 people were injured in Tuesday's protests, according to civil society groups. It is still unclear how many people were arrested.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said he was deeply saddened by reports of deaths and injuries.

"I urge the Kenyan authorities to exercise restraint, and call for all demonstrations to take place peacefully," he wrote on the social media platform X.

In Nairobi, a regional hub for expatriates and home to a United Nations complex, inequality among Kenyans has sharpened along with long-held frustrations over state corruption.

Opposition to the finance bill has united a large part of the country, with some explicitly rejecting the tribal divisions that have torn Kenya apart in the past. Some who had passionately supported Ruto felt betrayed.

A Kenyan newspaper, Daily Nation, called for dialogue. "Let's reason together," its front page said.

Citizen TV, a local broadcaster, led a discussion titled "A Nation on the Brink" with panellists calling on the government to engage with the public.

Related Stories

No stories found.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com