Violent Protests in Kenya Over Finance Law Changes

Violent Protests in Kenya Over Finance Law Changes

Kenya has been rocked by violent protests over a new finance law that has seen the fuel tax double and the introduction of a housing levy for employees. The protests, which began on Friday in the western city of Kisumu and spread to the capital Nairobi, have so far resulted in one fatality.

The law, which was due to be implemented last week, was suspended by the High Court but the government disregarded the decision and increased the retail price of petrol, leading to widespread public outrage. Opposition leader Raila Odinga and his Azimio coalition have called on Kenyans to join the protests in an effort to oppose the tax increases.

The police intervened in Kisumu to break up the protests, resulting in one man being shot dead and two others being hospitalised. Footage aired on television showed motorists turning around on a street within the port city of Mombasa as protesters fled on foot.

The protests have caused disruption in the capital, with police firing tear gas and making dozens of arrests. The government has defended its decision to impose the tax hikes, which it says are needed to help deal with growing debt repayments and fund job-creating initiatives.

The High Court will rule on Monday on a contempt application against the energy sector regulator for disregarding the court-ordered suspension, as well as giving further directions on the main suit. This is not the first time Raila Odinga has called for protests against the government.

Earlier this year, thousands of Kenyans heeded his call against a plan to raise the value-added tax on fuel and electricity. The current protests are likely to continue until the finance law is amended or repealed. It is uncertain whether the government will take action to prevent further disruption and loss of life.

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