Protests in Nairobi Escalate Over Controversial Tax Bill

NAIROBI — Crowds of demonstrators clashed with police in Nairobi once again on Thursday, marking another day of protests against the Finance Bill 2024. The bill, introduced earlier this year, has ignited widespread discontent across Kenya for its proposed tax hikes.

Since its presentation in parliament this May, the Finance Bill 2024 has been met with vehement opposition from Kenyan citizens. The legislation seeks to increase taxes and levies across various sectors, a move purportedly aimed at bolstering the country’s economy and easing its fiscal challenges.

The streets of Nairobi’s Central Business District were once more the epicenter of confrontation on Thursday, as protesters faced off against law enforcement officers armed with tear gas and water cannons. Amnesty Kenya has reported at least 283 arrests in connection with the protests, including several journalists, denouncing what they call “excessive force” and “arbitrary arrests.”

Stella Njoki, a 22-year-old student who participated in the protests, emphasized the urgency of their actions, stating, “This is our future, our Kenya, and it is us who will be paying this price.”

International concerns have also been raised, with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi issuing a cautionary alert to American citizens, highlighting the potential for peaceful demonstrations to escalate into violence.

In response to public outcry, amendments to the Finance Bill were announced by Kenya’s President’s Office on Tuesday evening. These amendments include the removal of proposed taxes on essential items such as bread, as well as adjustments to taxes on financial transactions and motor vehicles.

President Ruto emphasized the importance of public participation in shaping the final legislation, stating, “Through public participation, the people of Kenya have had a say.”

As tensions remain high and negotiations continue, Kenya braces for further developments amidst ongoing protests across the nation.

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