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Kenyan Police Use Teargas to Disperse Protesters as President Withdraws Tax Hike Bill

NAIROBI — Kenyan police fired teargas at dozens of protesters and blocked streets leading to the presidential palace on Thursday, as small demonstrations continued in several cities despite the president’s decision to withdraw a tax hike bill.

The turnout for the protests was significantly lower than the mass rallies that erupted over the past week. President William Ruto withdrew the legislation on Wednesday, a day after clashes resulted in at least 23 deaths and the temporary storming and setting alight of the parliament building.

Ruto is facing the most serious crisis of his two-year presidency as a youth-led protest movement has grown from online condemnations of the tax hikes into widespread rallies demanding political reform.

Without a formal leadership structure, protest supporters were divided on the future course of the demonstrations.

“Let’s not be foolish as we fight for a better Kenya,” Boniface Mwangi, a prominent social justice activist, said in an Instagram post. He supported Thursday’s demonstrations but opposed calls to invade State House, the president’s formal offices and residence, arguing that such a move could incite more violence and justify a government crackdown.

In the capital, Nairobi, police and soldiers patrolled the streets on Thursday and blocked access to State House. Police used teargas to disperse several dozen protesters who had gathered in the city center.

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