Kenya braces for fresh protests despite Ruto U-turn

Kenya braced for more protests in the capital, Nairobi, Thursday, despite an announcement by President William Ruto to put on hold an unpopular tax bill that sparked deadly riots.

Witnesses in the capital reported police set up roadblocks on streets leading to the presidential palace.

In an address to the nation Wednesday, Ruto defended the move to raise taxes on basic goods such bread and cooking oil, saying it was necessary to reduce the country’s massive debt of nearly $80 billion. But he admitted the public did not support the finance bill and decided not to sign it.

He spoke one day after more than 20 people were killed during protests against the bill that led to clashes with police.

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“I concede and therefore I will not sign the 2024 finance bill. It shall subsequently be withdrawn and that shall be our collective position,” Ruto said in a statement to lawmakers from the State House on Wednesday.

The bill won approval in Parliament on Tuesday, but lawmakers fled the scene as clashes between police and protesters mounted and hundreds of demonstrators stormed the complex. Parts of the Parliament were set on fire and burned for hours.

Protests taking place in Kisumu

Kenya’s news outlet Nation is reporting that protesters in Kisumu, the country’s third-largest city, have marched from Kondele to the city centre and have staged a sit-down protest in front of Kisumu State Lodge.

It is being reported that there are police officers as well as military vehicles at the location.

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