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Kenyan President Bows to Protesters, Withdraws Tax Hikes

NAIROBI—Kenyan President William Ruto on Wednesday rescinded planned tax increases after a surge of protests, marking a significant victory for a nascent, youth-led movement that has swiftly evolved from online dissent to mass demonstrations demanding political change.

The decision comes amid the most severe crisis of Ruto’s two-year tenure, prompted by widespread discontent over proposed tax hikes.

Protesters, having stormed parliament and held demonstrations nationwide, threatened continued action if their demands were not met. Despite the president’s reversal, some activists announced plans to proceed with a rally on Thursday, reiterating calls for Ruto’s resignation.

In a televised address flanked by applauding lawmakers, Ruto stated, “Listening keenly to the people of Kenya who have said loudly that they want nothing to do with this finance bill 2024, I concede. Therefore, I will not sign the 2024 finance bill, and it shall subsequently be withdrawn.”

His announcement followed a day of violent clashes between police and protesters that left at least 23 dead and scores injured, according to medical sources.

Vice President Rigathi Gachagua appealed for calm, urging young people to halt protests to prevent further loss of life and property damage. He criticized the intelligence services for failing to adequately advise the government.

“There would have been no mayhem, but they slept on the job,” Gachagua remarked, calling for the resignation of the National Intelligence Service chief.

Protesters remained defiant. Boniface Mwangi, a prominent social justice activist, called for a “1-million-people march

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