Saturday 22 June 2024 - 02:19

Hundreds Injured, Over 100 Arrested in Kenya Protests Against Tax Hikes

Story Code : 1143057
Hundreds Injured, Over 100 Arrested in Kenya Protests Against Tax Hikes
Five organizations, including Amnesty International, announced in a joint statement late on Thursday that at least 105 protesters were arrested in a violent crackdown by riot police, who used tear gas, water cannon, and rubber bullets, according to Al Jazeera.

In Nairobi, the capital, at least 200 people were injured, with reports of "soft tissue injuries and inhalation of tear gas." Six people were "hit by cars while running away from police officers," and five others were injured by rubber bullets.

Spent cartridges found at the scene suggested the use of live rounds, the groups said.

Local media reported that an unidentified person died at the Bliss Medical Centre in Nairobi from a gunshot wound to his thigh sustained during the protest. This was consistent with a police report stating that a 29-year-old man died during treatment for a thigh wound at the same hospital on Thursday night.

"We continue to urge the National Police Service to desist from the use of excessive force, intimidation, and arbitrary and unlawful arrests of Kenyans," said the groups, which also included the Kenya Medical Association, the Law Society of Kenya, the Defenders Coalition, and the Independent Medical Legal Unit.

Protests against the budget proposals, aimed at raising $2.7 billion in additional taxes, spread Thursday to 19 of Kenya’s 47 counties. Nairobi’s central business district was brought to a standstill as horse-riding riot police deployed tear gas canisters and water cannon on demonstrators.

The protesters, who began their demonstrations on Tuesday, are demanding that lawmakers vote against the legislation, which they argue will be burdensome for salaried Kenyans, entrepreneurs, and consumers. They accuse President William Ruto’s administration of reneging on its pledge to reduce taxes and lower the cost of living.

The new taxes would include a 2.75 percent levy on income for the national medical insurance plan, as well as increased taxes on vegetable oil and fuel, which would raise production costs and affect consumers.

Proposals to introduce a 16 percent value-added tax on bread and a new annual tax on motor vehicles were removed from the legislation on Tuesday following a meeting between Ruto and governing party members.

However, Thursday's demonstrators said the amendments did not go far enough and called for legislators to completely reject the budget legislation.

Despite the protests, parliamentarians passed the finance bill in its second reading on Thursday. A third and final reading of the contentious measure is scheduled for next week. The final version must pass before June 30.