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Kenya Protests Turn Deadly 13 Killed as Military Deploys Amid Anti-Tax Unrest

Photo : AFP

Violence erupted in Kenya as protests intensified over proposed tax hikes, resulting in a tragic toll of at least 13 deaths, as reported by the Kenya Medical Association. What began as peaceful demonstrations last week escalated dramatically on Tuesday when tensions flared in Nairobi and other cities. The catalyst for the unrest was the 2024 finance bill, which included measures to increase taxes, intended to alleviate Kenya's mounting debt, estimated at 10 trillion shillings (about $78 billion), nearly 70% of the country's GDP.

The protests, primarily led by young Kenyans, gained momentum against a backdrop of rising living costs and economic challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially peaceful marches turned violent as clashes erupted between demonstrators and law enforcement officers. The situation reached a critical point when protesters breached security at the parliament complex in Nairobi, setting fires and causing extensive damage.

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In response to the escalating unrest, President William Ruto's administration deployed the military alongside police forces to quell what it termed a "security emergency." This move underscored the gravity of the situation, which has drawn widespread condemnation and concern both domestically and internationally. Rights groups and opposition leaders have criticized the government's handling of the protests, alleging heavy-handed tactics and reports of protester abductions.

The scenes of chaos and destruction at parliament shocked many Kenyans, prompting urgent calls for calm and dialogue to address underlying grievances. Despite the government's decision to roll back some of the more contentious tax proposals, including those affecting basic commodities and financial services, tensions remain high. The unresolved economic challenges facing Kenya, coupled with widespread poverty affecting a third of its 52 million citizens, underscore the urgency for sustainable solutions and inclusive economic policies.

The international community, including the United Nations and various Western nations, has expressed deep concern over the situation in Kenya. Calls for restraint and respect for human rights have accompanied appeals for a peaceful resolution to the crisis, emphasizing the importance of dialogue and inclusive governance in navigating the country's economic challenges and social unrest.

June 26, 2024 3:50 p.m. 360

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