Kenya anti-tax protests turn violent as government votes on controversial bill

Damond Isiaka
3 Min Read


CNN
 — 

Violent clashes between police and protestors have broken out in Nairobi, Kenya on Thursday as a government vote on a controversial finance bill gets underway.

A CNN team on the ground witnessed chaotic scenes as protestors were tear gassed by police, with one journalist left bloodied after being directly hit with a canister.

Parliament has been sealed off since Thursday morning with roads around it blocked as lawmakers debate the Finance Bill inside. Anger continues over proposed tax hikes in the East African nation that has struggled with rising living costs.

Police are breaking up peaceful protesters with tear gas and water cannons around the city center in Nairobi.

A partial government climbdown on the bill has failed to quell the anger.

CNN has met protesters as young as 18 who say they’re fighting for their future.

“President Ruto, look at the tears of the Children of the country of Kenya. Look at the tears of the women in the country of Kenya,” one young man told CNN’s Larry Madowo.

The government has faced backlash and protests since Tuesday over the controversial bill and was forced to amend it after dozens of demonstrators rallied outside the country’s parliament building.

Among the taxes suspended was a 16% value-added tax on bread and a 2.5% tax on motor vehicles, a statement from Kenya’s presidency said.

Young Kenyans say they are fighting for their future

A proposed increase in mobile money transfer fees was also shelved along with taxes on vegetable oil. Additionally, levies on locally produced products, such as diapers and sanitary towels, have been dropped.

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Mass arrests in Kenya as angry citizens protest against tax hikes

But the changes have failed to satisfy protesters who have called for the bill to be scrapped completely.

Mass arrests were recorded in Nairobi earlier on Tuesday with at least 283 people, including journalists covering the protests detained by police, civil society groups said.

Young Kenyans or GenZs, say they are fighting for their future and are using social media platforms such as TikTok to amplify their message.

The app, known for its short, engaging videos, has morphed from its role as an entertainment hub into one for social and political activism.

TikTok’s live streaming feature has been pivotal during the protests as activists use it to provide real-time updates, broadcast live from protest sites, and document any instances of police brutality or overreach.

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