Protests against Kenya’s finance bill: thirteen people reportedly killed in Nairobi

Video caption, Kenya: Gunfire and tear gas in Nairobi over new tax laws

  • Author, Basillioh Rukanga and Ido Vock
  • Role, BBC News, Nairobi and London

At least 13 protesters were killed during demonstrations in Kenya, doctors said, and part of Parliament was burned down as demonstrations against new tax proposals intensified on Tuesday.

An angry crowd broke through police lines to storm Parliament in the capital Nairobi before setting fire to parts of it.

In a speech on Tuesday evening, President William Ruto said all means would be deployed to “thwart any attempt by dangerous criminals to undermine the security and stability of our country.”

He deployed the army to quell the protests.

Several groups accused security forces of overreacting by using live ammunition.

Simon Kigondu, president of the Kenya Medical Association, told the AFP news agency that the figure of 13 deaths was “not the definitive number”.

Unverified reports also emerged on social media that dozens of people were shot dead by security agents overnight, as well as reports of deaths in other parts of the country where protests took place. place.

Demonstrations against an unpopular finance bill, which provides for several tax increases, have continued for several days. But they intensified on Tuesday when deputies adopted an amended bill.

Protesters broke into Parliament, vandalizing the interior and setting fire to parts of the complex. The ceremonial mace, symbolizing the authority of the legislative branch, was stolen.

Police then opened fire with live ammunition, according to the Kenya Medical Association.

BBC’s Mercy Juma in Nairobi saw several bodies lying in the street in pools of blood.

The protests were largely organized by young people via social media.

“There are things that are difficult to understand, like how can we impose a 16% tax on bread? How can we tax sanitary napkins?” » Derrick Mwathu, 24, told the BBC, referring to some of the proposals in the original bill.

President Ruto has pledged a strong response to what he called “violence and anarchy”.

“It is neither acceptable nor even conceivable that criminals posing as peaceful protesters can unleash a reign of terror against the people, their elected representatives and the institutions established by our constitution and hope to escape unscathed,” added Mr Ruto.

On Wednesday morning, Speaker of Parliament, Moses Wetangula, commended the youth for leading the discourse on the Finance Bill and the state of the economy.

He said, however, that “violence, disrespect, wanton destruction of property and blatant attacks on public institutions must not be tolerated.”

The killing of protesters has also been widely condemned, including by human rights defenders, lawyers and the Church.

Wanjeri Nderu, director of the International Society for Human Rights, told the BBC that what happened during the protest was “like we were at war”, adding that police were using live ammunition even before that Parliament is not violated.

The Catholic bishops also condemned the police action and “strongly appealed to the police not to shoot at protesters,” while urging demonstrators to remain peaceful.

The Law Society of Kenya has called on international criminal investigators to help the families in their quest for justice, saying it has information that soldiers are attacking protesters at Parliament.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply saddened by reports of deaths and injuries – including among journalists and medical personnel – related to protests and street demonstrations in Kenya.”

He also urged Kenyan authorities to “exercise restraint” and called for all protests to be peaceful.

Legend, The town hall and Parliament were victims of fires on Tuesday.

Hundreds of people were reportedly injured, including by rubber bullets and tear gas. At a Nairobi cathedral, where a medical camp had been set up to treat injured protesters, a BBC journalist saw doctors being forced out of the building by soldiers.

Another temporary unit was set up outside the Kenyatta National Hospital emergency unit.

Legend, Doctors leave a medical camp they set up for protesters at a Nairobi cathedral after being evicted by the military.

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta called for dialogue, saying Kenya’s leaders should “know that power and authority are given to them by the people.”

Although the government backed away from some proposals in the original bill, protesters demanded its entire withdrawal.

Maureen Awuor, 23, said: “Our voice needs to be heard… We are the generation coming up, so they need to hear us.”

The protests have made headlines in Africa and other parts of the world.

Two of Africa’s leading protest figures, Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine and South African radical politician Julius Malema, have both expressed support for the protesters.

Western countries have expressed concern about the violence and called for calm.

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Image source, Getty Images/BBC

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