Demonstrators feared dead as protests flare in Kenya over tax hikes

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“I was involved in the Nairobi protests. We were dispersed with water cannons, tear gas canisters, and live bullets,” Wandayi said.

“We are still verifying but so far, we have confirmed nine deaths across the country. The numbers might increase because there were many people with fatal injuries.”

Some of the protesters allegedly pelted stones at public properties and also destroyed a section of a major highway in Machakos’ Mlolongo town, Citizen TV reported.

A steep cost for Kenyans

Kenyan opposition leader and former prime minister Raila Odinga has led calls for nationwide protests over the increases.

Odinga lost the election in August last year and believes the results were manipulated and has since led civil disobedience protests against his political rival.

A Kenyan court temporarily halted the implementation of the Finance Act 2023 touted by President William Ruto as a measure to shore up public finances and increase domestic revenue.

However, the Ruto administration defied the court order and increased tax on fuel prices, which has led to a rise in cost of transport and staple goods.

“Kenyans are basically now on their knees. These new tax proposals have added serious pain to an already difficult situation. Kenyans who are on payroll are taking home negative salaries, and those who are in the informal sector are unable to make ends meet,” he said.

“Many Kenyans are unable to put three meals on the table in a day, and they are very angry at the situation as it is currently.”

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