Kenyan president offers talks to protesters on tax bill

President Ruto open to dialogue on Finance Bill 2024 as protests against tax hikes continue for 6th consecutive day.

News Desk June 24, 2024


Protests against Kenya's proposed high taxes continued for the sixth consecutive day, prompting President William Ruto on Sunday to express his willingness to engage in dialogue with demonstrators led by a youth group.

While attending a church service in Nyahururu, central Kenya, Ruto commended the youth for voicing their concerns about political issues.

“Our young people have stepped forward to engage in the affairs of their country. They have done a democratic duty to stand and be recognized, and I want to tell you that we are going to have a conversation with you to identify your concerns and work together as a nation,” he said.

Kenyan youth, particularly those from Generation Z, have been leading protests against the proposed Finance Bill 2024 through digital platforms known as "Occupy Parliament," as well as demonstrations.

The largest protest took place across all major cities and towns in the country on Tuesday.

Anadolu Agency contacted vocal Generation Z members, who declined the president’s offer for negotiations due to fears of repercussions, as several youth leaders have been arrested over the last six days in various cities.

The protests are driven by concerns over proposed tax hikes and economic policies that many believe disproportionately affect the younger population.

Once dismissed as "keyboard warriors," dozens of young Kenyans marched through Nairobi's Central Business District on Sunday, carrying placards to oppose the proposed taxes.

Demonstrations were witnessed across the East African country.

Youth have disrupted events attended by members of parliament who supported the controversial bill. Thousands of Kenyans have taken to the streets since Tuesday to demand the withdrawal of the bill.

The demonstrations have been mostly peaceful, but there were reports of police using tear gas and water cannons to disperse crowds, resulting in casualties and arrests.

Two people were shot dead by police, and more than 200 were injured, prompting human rights organizations to express concern and call for an investigation into alleged violations.

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) is investigating deaths caused by police shootings during the protests.

Several protest organizers, including well-known comedian Eric Omondi, were arrested by police.

Omondi was detained outside parliament on Friday while protesting against legislators who supported the bill. Standup comedian Billy Samani was also arrested on Friday but released on Sunday.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have defended the right to protest and condemned the killings.

The Kenyan Parliament passed the Finance Bill 2024 last week, with 204 members voting in favour and 105 against. The bill is scheduled to move to the committee stage for amendments on Tuesday.

The bill includes other tax increases aimed at raising more than $2.7 billion for the government's ambitious Ksh 4.2 trillion (approximately $30.6 billion) 2024-25 budget.

In response, the youth have vowed to encamp outside parliament in the thousands to protest. Organizers have widely circulated a poster online, calling for a "total shutdown" of Kenya, urging parents to keep their children at home in solidarity.


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