Kenya: anti-government demonstration degenerates, at least 5 dead and 31 injured

Kenya: anti-government demonstration degenerates, at least 5 dead and 31 injured

At least five people were killed and 31 injured on Tuesday during an anti-government protest in Kenya that turned into chaos in the capital Nairobi after demonstrators broke through police barriers and entered parliament grounds.

The NGO Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHCR) claimed to have seen the police “shooting four demonstrators, (…) killing one of them”, in a press release on X.

AFP journalists present on site saw three inanimate bodies, lying in pools of blood, near Parliament, where a building was on fire.

An official from Amnesty International Kenya, Irungu Houghton, reported in a statement to AFP that “many injured”denouncing the “increasing use of live ammunition by the police” during this demonstration.

The Kenyan television channel KTN reported at least eight deaths, based on information from emergency services. NGOs, including Amnesty Kenya, speak of 5 deaths and 31 injured. They also mention the kidnapping of at least 21 people in the last 24 hours.

Tension gradually rose on Tuesday in the central business district (CBD) of Nairobi where the third demonstration in eight days by a movement called “Occupy Parliament” opposing the 2024 draft budget was held. -25 which provides for the introduction of new taxes.

The first clashes broke out around midday after demonstrators advanced into an area housing several official buildings (Parliament, Supreme Court, Nairobi town hall, etc.).

The demonstrators then forced the police barriers to enter the enclosure where the deputies had just approved the amendments to the text, which must be voted on by June 30.

Other demonstrations were held in several other cities in the country, notably in the opposition strongholds of Mombasa (east) and Kisumu (west), in Eldoret (west), a large city in the Rift Valley, region of origin of President William Ruto, Nyeri (southwest) and Nakuru (central), according to local media.

The “Occupy Parliament” movement was launched on social networks shortly after the presentation to Parliament on June 13 of the 2024-2025 draft budget providing for the introduction of new taxes, including a 16% VAT on bread and an annual tax. 2.5% on private vehicles.

The government announced on June 18 that it was withdrawing most of the measures, but the demonstrators continued their movement, demanding the complete withdrawal of the text. They denounce a sleight of hand by the government which plans to compensate for the withdrawal of certain tax measures by others, in particular a 50% increase in fuel taxes.