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Kenya Finance Bill Protests: 13 Killed and Set Parliament on Fire

On Tuesday, Kenya saw an increase in protests against a controversial finance bill. At least 13 people were reported dead with several more injured as protesters clashed with police and stormed Parliament.

Kenya Finance Bill Protests: 13 Killed and Set Parliament on Fire

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The Kenyan government introduced a finance bill proposing tax hikes, which included a 16% value-added tax on bread, taxes on motor vehicles, vegetable oil and mobile money transfers.

This was to address economic issues, but it led to dissatisfaction. The bill was met with fierce opposition across the country resulting in a protest movement called “7 Days of Rage” that called for a “total shutdown” of the nation.

Police used tear gas and live ammunition against protesters leading to violent clashes. At least 13 people were reported dead and dozens injured including those hit by live bullets and rubber bullets.

Police reportedly attacked a medical emergency center at a church, disrupting aid to injured protesters. Medical workers and human rights observers reported human rights violations.

Protesters breached parliament setting parts of the building on fire and stealing the ceremonial mace.

Lawmakers had to be evacuated through a tunnel to escape the chaos. The protests saw damage to property including fires at Nairobi’s City Hall and vehicles outside the Supreme Court. Protesters were seen removing furniture from government buildings.

Auma Obama, half-sister of former U.S. President Barack Obama was teargassed during a live interview with CNN while protesting.

She expressed her solidarity with the young Kenyans fighting for their rights. Amnesty International Kenya reported the abduction of up to 12 individuals including bloggers, human rights defenders and others, allegedly by security forces.

President Ruto called the protests “treasonous” and addressed the need to separate democratic expression from criminal activities.

He declared that the government would take all necessary measures to restore order. The defense ministry confirmed the deployment of the military to assist police in handling the unrest and protecting critical infrastructure.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga condemned the government’s violent response and called for the immediate repeal of the finance bill.

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For days, Kenyans had been rallying against the new finance bill, which proposed tax increases. The bill, seen as a burden on the populace in the youth.

The protests reached a peak on Tuesday when demonstrators, driven by anger and frustration, breached police lines and set parts of the Parliament building on fire.

As police responded with live ammunition and tear gas, the situation turned deadly. Simon Kigondu, president of the Kenya Medical Association confirmed that the death toll stood at 13 but cautioned that the number might rise.

The bill proposed several controversial tax hikes including a 16% tax on bread and sanitary pads, which protesters decried as unfair.

The government argued that the tax increases were necessary to address Kenya’s huge debt burden and to stabilize the economy.

President William Ruto condemned the protests describing the actions of the protestors as treasonous and vowed to restore order at all costs.

He addressed the need for stability and security. To quell the unrest, President Ruto deployed the military to assist police forces.

Several groups including human rights organizations and the Kenya Medical Association accused the security forces of using excessive force.

Reports indicated the use of live ammunition even before protesters breached the Parliament building.

Mercy Juma of BBC reported seeing bodies on the streets of Nairobi, suggesting a severe overreaction by the police. Social media was flooded with unverified reports of dozens of deaths.

The protests were largely driven by young Kenyans who felt betrayed by President Ruto’s administration. Many of these youths had supported Ruto during his election campaign.

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