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BY Francis Akhalbey, 8:49am June 27, 2024,

‘The people have spoken’: Controversial finance bill withdrawn by Kenyan president after unrest

A controversial finance bill sparked mass nationwide protests in Kenya -- Photo Credit: Susana Villalba/World Trade Organization

Kenyan President William Ruto caved in to pressure and on Wednesday announced he was not going to sign the controversial finance bill following mass nationwide protests that turned deadly.

As previously reported by Face2Face Africa, protesters in Kenya had called on authorities to scrap the bill imposing new taxes as citizens were already suffering over the high cost of living. CNN reported that at least 23 people have since been killed during the protests. 

“Having reflected on the continuing conversation regarding the content of the finance bill 2024, and listening keenly to the people of Kenya who have said loudly that they want nothing to do with this Finance Bill 2024, I concede, and therefore I will not sign the 2024 finance bill,” Ruto said in a televised address on Wednesday.

“The people have spoken,” he continued. “Following the passage of the bill, the country experienced widespread expression of dissatisfaction with the bill as passed, regrettably resulting in the loss of life, the destruction of property and desecration of constitutional institutions.”

Despite the president announcing his decision to withdraw the controversial bill in its entirety, protesters in the East African nation said they will still go ahead with a “One Million People March” on Thursday. 

A viral poster on X (formerly Twitter) urges Kenyans from all demographics to take to the streets again. The poster also urges people around the capital, Nairobi, to “block all roads leading to the city on Thursday.” Per CNN, other protesters are also urging people to make their way to the State House in the capital.

Ruto’s withdrawal of the bill came after the government initially made amendments to the proposed tax increases. This included scrapping a 16% value-added tax on bread as well as taxes on motor vehicles, vegetable oil, and mobile money transfers. But that did nothing to mitigate the protests that turned deadly on Tuesday.

Security forces reportedly discharged teargas and opened fire on protesters, resulting in casualties. Protesters also stormed the East African nation’s parliament building and set a portion of it on fire. Other government buildings were also burned.

A civil society organization called the Police Reforms Working Group (PRWG) reported that at least 23 people had been killed during the protests – though Ruto on Wednesday claimed six people had died.

“I send my condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones in this very unfortunate manner,” Ruto said. “There is need for us as a nation to pick up from here and go into the future.”

The president also said he would liaise with the youth spearheading the protests to listen to their ideas and proposals, CNN reported.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 27, 2024

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