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Kenya in turmoil: Deadly protests over tax hikes lead to parliament blaze


 

Kenya was in a state of shock Wednesday following unprecedented scenes that left parts of parliament ablaze and gutted, as protests over proposed tax hikes turned deadly, prompting President William Ruto’s government to deploy the military.

“Deaths, mayhem”, read the front-page headline on the Standard newspaper, while the Daily Nation described the situation as “Pandemonium”, saying: “The foundations of the country have been shaken to the core.”

The mainly youth-led rallies began mostly peacefully last week, with thousands of demonstrators marching in the capital Nairobi and across the country against the tax increases.

But tensions flared sharply on Tuesday afternoon, as police officers fired live rounds on crowds that later ransacked the parliament complex, with rights groups saying the violence had left five dead and more than 30 injured.

Hours later, Defence Minister Aden Bare Duale announced that the government had deployed the army to support the police in tackling “the security emergency” in the country.

In a late-night press briefing, Ruto warned that his government would take a tough line against “violence and anarchy”, likening some of the demonstrators to “criminals”.

“It is not in order or even conceivable that criminals pretending to be peaceful protesters can reign terror against the people, their elected representatives and the institutions established under our constitution and expect to go scot-free,” he said.


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