Kenyan President Bows To Pressure Amid Tax Hikes After Deadly Protests


Kenyan President William Ruto on Wednesday withdrew planned tax hikes, bowing to pressure from protesters who had stormed parliament, launched demonstrations across the country and threatened more action this week.

The government wanted to use the tax hikes to raise funds to pay off debt, but Kenyans said the bill would cause more economic pain as millions struggled to get by.

The chaos on Tuesday led the government to deploy the military, and Ruto called protesters’ actions “treasonous.”

The president said the bill has caused “widespread dissatisfaction” and he has listened and “conceded.”

It’s a major setback for Ruto, who came to power vowing to help Kenyans cope with rising costs but has seen much of the country, led by youth, unite in opposition to his latest attempt at reforms.

“It is necessary for us to have a conversation as a nation on how to manage the affairs of the country together,” he said.

Kenyans faced the lingering smell of tear gas and the military in the streets a day after the latest protests saw thousands, storm parliament, an act of defiance that Ruto had called an “existential” threat.

At least 22 people were killed, a human rights group said, and police were accused of some shooting to deaths.

Ruto acknowledged deaths, calling it an “unfortunate situation,” and offered condolences. He said about 200 people had been wounded.

Nairobi has seen protests in the past, but activists and others warned the stakes were more dangerous.