Kenyan Protesters Vow to Continue Amid Tax Hike Outrage

Kenyan protesters vowed on Wednesday to keep up their demonstrations against new tax hikes, a day after police opened fire on crowds trying to storm parliament
Demonstrators gesture as police use tear gas to disperse protesters during a demonstration against Kenya's proposed finance bill 2024/2025 in Nairobi, Kenya, June 25, 2024.
Demonstrators gesture as police use tear gas to disperse protesters during a demonstration against Kenya's proposed finance bill 2024/2025 in Nairobi, Kenya, June 25, 2024.REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi

By Aaron Ross

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenyan protesters vowed on Wednesday to keep up their demonstrations against new tax hikes, a day after police opened fire on crowds trying to storm parliament, killing at least five people and wounding dozens.

As heavily armed officers patrolled the streets of the capital Nairobi, supporters of the week-old protest movement took to X, using the hashtag #tutanethursday, or "see you on Thursday" in a mix of Swahili and English.

Many social media users focused on President William Ruto's speech after the clashes, in which he said the attack on parliament was the work of "criminals pretending to be peaceful protesters".

"Good morning fellow CRIMINALS Tupatane Thursday To do what CRIMINALS do," one X user posted.

The protest movement has no formal leadership and has primarily organised on social media platforms.

Ruto said in his televised address to the nation late on Tuesday that the debate about the tax measures - which lawmakers passed minutes before parliament was breached - had been "hijacked by dangerous people".

The government ordered the army deployed to help the police deal with a "security emergency", though there were no reports of troops on the streets of Nairobi on Wednesday.

Last week, protesters had circulated a schedule that called for the occupation of parliament on Tuesday and the occupation of State House, the president's office and residence on Thursday.

Ruto won an election almost two years ago on a platform of championing Kenya's working poor. He has been caught between the competing demands of lenders such as the International Monetary Fund, which is urging the government to cut deficits to obtain more funding, and a hard-pressed population.

Lawmakers removed some tax hikes from the final version of the finance bill, including ones on bread and cooking oil, but inserted others in an effort to avoid a budget gap.

(Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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