President Ruto Withdraws Tax Bill Amid Protests

Kenya’s President William Ruto has opted to retract a finance bill featuring contentious tax increases following violent protests that saw parliament ablaze on Tuesday.

Speaking to the nation, he acknowledged the bill was unwanted by Kenyans. “I yield,” he declared, confirming he would not endorse the bill into law.

According to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNHRC), at least 22 fatalities resulted from Tuesday’s protests, which were state-funded.

President Ruto stated he would now engage in discussions with the youth, who spearheaded the country’s largest protests since his 2022 election.

Despite widespread demonstrations, parliament passed the bill on Tuesday. Protesters stormed parliament, vandalizing its interior and setting parts of the building on fire. The ceremonial mace, symbolizing legislative authority, was taken.

Initially defiant, President Ruto ordered military intervention, declaring zero tolerance for “violence and anarchy.”

However, he reversed course on Wednesday, following widespread public demonstrations.

“Ruto bows to Gen Z pressure, withdraws Finance Bill,” read Kenya’s Citizen TV headline.

In his second address within 24 hours, President Ruto justified the proposed tax hikes.

The bill aimed to address Kenya’s staggering $80bn (£63bn) debt, consuming more than half of annual tax revenues.

President Ruto insisted his administration was making headway, nearing full debt repayment to “assert sovereignty.”

While the bill aimed to benefit farmers, students, and teachers, he acknowledged public opposition.

“I also lead people,” he acknowledged, “and the people have spoken.”

It’s uncertain how withdrawing the bill will affect planned protests, largely coordinated via social media, expected to resume on Thursday.

Social media suggests the protests will continue.

Initially aimed at halting bill passage, demonstrators now demand President Ruto’s resignation, chanting “Ruto must go.”

President Ruto narrowly won the 2022 election, defeating main rival Raila Odinga.

Securing 50.5% of the vote versus Odinga’s 48.8%, President Ruto’s campaign opposed political dynasty control, pledging “bottom-up” economic strategies to combat youth unemployment and aid the less fortunate.


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