July 17, 2024

Kenya: Youth leads new protest against William Ruto’s government

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Kenya: Youth leads new protest against William Ruto's government

Kenya: Youth leads new protest against William Ruto's government

Kenya braces for another day of protests on Tuesday following a call to continue mobilizing against President William Ruto’s government, a movement that began in mid-June and has claimed 39 lives, according to the Kenyan Agency for Human Rights Protection.

The deadly wave of unrest, sparked by the government’s budget proposal introducing new taxes, has evolved into a nationwide defiance movement against the current administration.

President Ruto announced the withdrawal of the 2024-2025 budget proposal last Wednesday, following a violent day marked by protesters storming Parliament, met with live ammunition from the police.

The 2024-2025 budget proposal included a 16% value-added tax (VAT) on bread and an annual 2.5% tax on private vehicles. The government justified these new taxes due to the country’s high debt levels.

The proposed tax hikes were intended to finance the budget, which projected record expenditures of 4 trillion shillings (approximately 29 billion euros).

Kenya’s public debt stands at around 10 trillion shillings, approximately 70% of the GDP.

According to the Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHCR), 39 people have died since the first protest on June 18.

Human Rights Watch, however, reports a death toll of 31. President William Ruto mentioned in a Sunday interview a figure of 19 deaths, stating he has “no blood on his hands” and that the police “did their best” to maintain order, as reported by Le Monde.

Tuesday morning saw several shops closed in Nairobi’s central business district, the epicenter of previous street mobilizations.

Since the deadly protests on June 25, calls for demonstrations have been variably heeded by the youth, who constitute the core of the movement, including the ‘Generation Z’ (those born after 1997).

A gathering in honor of the victims took place on Sunday, drawing hundreds chanting “Ruto must go!”

Elected in August 2022, William Ruto had pledged to defend the most vulnerable but subsequently implemented austerity measures that have eroded Kenyans’ purchasing power.

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