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When protesters try to enter the Kenyan parliament, police open fire


On Tuesday, as protestors attempted to storm Kenya’s legislature, police opened fire, killing at least five of them and setting parts of the building on fire while MPs inside voted tax-hiking legislation.

In disorderly scenes, demonstrators tried to breach the parliament compound by overpowering police and chasing them away. There were flames rising from within.

When water cannons and tear gas failed to break up the masses, police opened fire. Outside parliament, a Reuters reporter counted the bodies of at least five demonstrators.

“We want to shut down parliament and every MP should go down and resign,” one protestor, Davis Tafari, trying to enter parliament, told Reuters. “We will have a new government.”

There were also conflicts and protests in a number of other cities and towns.

The finance bill was adopted by parliament, advancing it to a third reading by legislators. The measure will then be forwarded to the president for signature. If he objects, he can send it back to parliament.

In addition to opposing tax increases in a nation already experiencing a crisis due to rising costs of living, many demonstrators are demanding the resignation of President William Ruto.

Ruto ran for office nearly two years ago on a platform of supporting Kenya’s working poor. However, he has been torn between the demands of a struggling populace and lenders like the International Monetary Fund, which wants the government to reduce deficits in order to obtain additional funding.

Kenyans have been unable to adjust to a number of economic shocks brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic’s aftereffects, the conflict in Ukraine, two years in a row of droughts, and currency devaluation.

The goal of the financial measure is to raise an additional $2.7 billion in taxes in an attempt to reduce the high debt load, which accounts for 37% of yearly revenue in interest payments alone.

A few concessions have already been made by the administration, which has pledged to drop plans for new taxes on financial transactions, cooking oil, bread, and car ownership. However, demonstrators have not been satisfied with that.

(Source: Reuters)

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