Protests in Kenya over Proposed Tax Increases

Protests in Kenya over Proposed Tax Increases

Sawako Uchida and Sawako Utsumi

Modern Tokyo Time

Tens of thousands of anti-tax protesters have rocked Kenya in recent days.

These protests are aimed at putting pressure on the ruling political elites. This concerns the Finance Bill 2024 being debated in parliament – with the knowledge that the government intends to implement tax hikes.

President William Ruto said, “I am very proud of our young people… they have stepped forward peaceful and I want to tell them we are going to engage them.” 

However, despite Ruto saying “peaceful,” two protesters have been killed by the security apparatus.

Voice of America reports, “Kenya has a debt mountain, and servicing costs have ballooned due to a fall in the value of the local currency over the last two years, leaving Ruto with few options.”

Social media was utilized via #OccupyParliament and #RejectFinanceBill2024 – along with artificial intelligence magnifying the message in various ways.

The BBC reports, As the protests started on Tuesday, the public outcry forced the government to withdraw some of contentious provisions, including a 16% tax on bread and an annual 2.5% tax on vehicles.”

The response by the state apparatus to the protests was condemned.

Chairperson Protas Saende (International Commission of Jurists) said, “We reiterate the use of live bullets against protesters is disproportionate and unlawful.”

AP News reports, “Demonstrators who tried to access parliament buildings where the finance bill debate was taking place on Thursday were met with water cannons, tear-gas canisters, and rubber or live bullets.”

It remains to be seen if the government of Kenya will placate protesters by listening and implementing policies that are needed to help people overcome the cost of living.

If minor amendments are introduced – then protests look set to continue.

Lee Jay Walker says, “Political corruption and cronyism in Kenya are major problems that hinder this nation.”

Voice of America reports, “Kenya finished low on the Transparency International corruption rankings for 2023, ranking 126th out of 180 countries measured for perception and prevalence of corruption.”

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