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One Dead, 200 Injured in Kenya Tax Hike Protests

The Kenyan capital, Nairobi, witnessed a tragic incident during mass protests against proposed tax hikes, as reported by the police on Friday. The demonstrations, which took place on Thursday, led to 200 injuries. The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) is currently investigating allegations that the man was fatally shot by the police. The protests, primarily driven by young Kenyans, began in Nairobi on Tuesday and quickly spread nationwide due to widespread dissatisfaction with President William Ruto’s economic policies amidst a challenging cost-of-living situation.

Although the protests in Nairobi on Thursday were mostly peaceful, law enforcement resorted to using tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters near the parliament. The IPOA has confirmed the death of a 29-year-old man, reportedly due to a police shooting, and has initiated an inquiry. According to a police report from Nairobi, the man sustained a thigh injury and succumbed to it after being taken to a hospital.

Amnesty International Kenya spokesperson Mathias Kinyoda mentioned that the man was shot in the central business district while trying to escape from the police. Witnesses claimed to have seen an undercover officer, accompanied by the police, firing at the group before returning to a police vehicle.

Various organizations, including Amnesty International Kenya, reported that around 200 individuals were injured during the protests. The Kenyan Red Cross highlighted that eight people were in critical condition.

On Thursday, thousands of individuals protested in different parts of the country, from Mombasa to Nakuru and Eldoret, which is President Ruto’s hometown. In response to earlier, smaller protests, the government agreed to reverse several tax hikes through a new bill. However, Ruto’s administration still intends to raise certain taxes to address a budget deficit and reduce dependence on external borrowing.

The eliminated taxes included those on bread, car ownership, and financial and mobile services. The treasury cautioned that removing these taxes would lead to a $1.5 billion shortfall. Initially, the proposed taxes were projected to generate $2.7 billion in revenue.

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