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Nationwide Protests In Kenya Against Tax Hikes Lead To Injuries And 100 Arrests

Nationwide protests in Kenya against a $2.7 billion tax hike has left at least 200 injured and over 100 arrested.

At least 200 people were injured and over 100 were arrested during Thursday’s nationwide protests in Kenya which broke out in 19 of Kenya’s 47 counties against the government’s plan to raise $2.7 billion in additional taxes, according to an alliance of rights groups including Amnesty International and the Kenya Medical Association.

Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters in Nairobi, and reports suggest live rounds were also used. One person reportedly died from a gunshot wound sustained during the Nairobi protest, the Daily Nation newspaper reported. However, Nairobi county police commander Adamson Bungei did not respond to inquiries about the incident.

The rights groups commended the thousands of protesters, many of them young, for demonstrating peacefully despite police provocation. “We commend the several thousands of protesters, many of whom are youthful, for picketing peacefully (and) exhibiting restraint and decorum despite provocation by police,” the group said.

Protesters are demanding the government abandon the finance bill, arguing it will harm the economy and raise living costs for already struggling Kenyans.

The International Monetary Fund, however, supports the tax hikes, stating the government needs to increase revenues to reduce the budget deficit and state borrowing.

Earlier this week, President William Ruto endorsed recommendations to remove some new levies, including those on car ownership, bread, cooking oil, and financial transactions. Despite the protests, lawmakers passed the finance bill in its second reading on Thursday. They are expected to vote on the proposed changes on Tuesday, which could create a 200 billion Kenyan shillings ($1.56 billion) hole in the 2024/25 budget and necessitate government spending cuts.

Melissa Enoch

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