Kenya: le rétropédalage du président ne convainc pas les manifestants mais la répression fait baisser la mobilisation

Kenya: President’s backpedaling fails to convince protesters, but repression reduces mobilization

President Ruto has announced he is withdrawing new taxes from the government’s budget.

On Thursday, June 27, despite calls for a new day of popular mobilization against the policies of Kenyan President William Ruto, elected in 2022 with a program that promised to promote redistribution to the working classes, the announced silent marches failed to mobilize a population visibly frightened by the violence of the repression of the previous days.

The Reasons Of The Wrath

On June 13, the Ruto government presented a draft budget for 2024-2025 which provided for the introduction of new taxes, including a 16% VAT on bread and an annual tax of 2.5% on private vehicles. An announcement which immediately aroused popular anger and numerous demonstrations.

Five days later, on June 18, the government announced that it was withdrawing most of these measures, but the protesters continued their movement, demanding the complete withdrawal of the text. They denounced a sleight of hand by the government, which plans to compensate for the withdrawal of certain tax measures with others, including a 50% increase in fuel taxes.

The tone continued to rise and led, Tuesday, June 25, to a deadly face-to-face between demonstrators and the police who did not hesitate to fire live ammunition at the demonstrators, leaving at least 22 dead. according to various human rights NGOs. Some demonstrators managed to enter the parliament.

Hours later, the spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for accountability to be “clearly” established after the death of the demonstrators.

The following day, Wednesday June 26, President Ruto, who had again stated the day before that he wanted to firmly repress “violence and anarchy”, finally announced the withdrawal of the budget project, and said it wanted a national consultation with young people.

An announcement immediately qualified as “ “communication operation” by Hanifa Adan, one of the leaders of the protest movement against President Ruto’s regime. The presidential speech was also greeted with suspicion by many of the demonstrators present in the city centre of the capital Nairobi, who were not inclined to ““trust Ruto,” convinced that “this law will pass one way or another”.

Shortness of breath

This Thursday, the call to demonstrate launched in particular on social networks did not mobilize the crowds. In the capital as in Mombasa, seat of the opposition, or in the Rift region, stronghold of President Ruto, the demonstrators were only a few dozen and the police did not hesitate to quickly open fire with bullets. rubber to cut short any desire to gather.

The government justified the new taxes by the burden of debt: “How can we manage our debt situation together?” questioned William Ruto after capitulating on the draft budget. According to him, there is a lack of money especially to fund programmes for farmers and teachers.

Kenya’s public debt stands at around 10,000 billion shillings (71 billion euros), or around 70% of GDP. The 2024-25 budget provided for 4,000 billion shillings (29 billion euros) in spending, a record.

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