Anti-government protests trigger violence, chaos across Kenya

Police try to break up a demonstration against the rising the cost of living with tear gas in Nairobi, Kenya on July 19, 2023. (Photo/AA)

At least five protesters were injured in Kenya on Wednesday as police clashed with demonstrators who are calling for the government to lower the cost of living.

Scenes of tear gas shelling, running battles between police and protesters, and destruction painted a grim picture in the capital Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu.

Fires lit by protesters along busy highways led to roads’ closure and traffic suspension.

The government also closed schools due to violent protests. Police on Tuesday said the Wednesday protests were illegal as no permit had been issued.

Speaking to Anadolu news agency, Jane Wambui, a 35-year-old businesswoman, expressed her frustration, saying: “The taxes keep increasing, and it's becoming impossible to make ends meet. We voted for (President) William Ruto with hopes of a better future, but he has failed us".

Samuel Mwangi, a 50-year-old taxi driver, criticised the government, stating: “The high fuel prices are killing our businesses. We can't make a decent living when we spend most of our earnings on fuel. Ruto must understand the struggles of ordinary Kenyans".

Fire trucks were deployed to Kisumu in western Kenya as a fire erupted at the Jua Kali market, where police were engaging protesters in running battles.

As tensions soared across the East African nation, police resorted to extreme measures, opening fire into the air to disperse the protesters.

In Kibera slums in Nairobi, the sound of gunfire echoed through the streets, sending waves of panic among the demonstrators and bystanders caught in the crossfire.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticised the government’s response to the resumption of protests by the opposition.

The rights group called on Kenya's political leaders to refrain from labeling protesters as terrorists and urged them to respect the rights to assembly and peaceful protest.

Last week’s protests left more than six people dead and many others injured, including 53 children who went into shock after tear gas was thrown inside their school compound.

Religious leaders have been calling for dialogue between the government and the opposition to end the protests.

Catholic bishops led by Anthony Muheria on Wednesday issued a statement reiterating that “no further blood should be shed” and urged the president to repeal the newly passed Finance Act that has agitated Kenyans.

The new finance law has raised the price of fuel to its highest as the government implements a doubling of value added tax on petroleum products to 16 percent. The new prices have taken effect despite a court order suspending the implementation of the controversial new taxes.

While Kenyan religious leaders and others urge the president to repeal the finance law to ease growing public frustration, the International Monetary Fund this week called its approval a “crucial” step toward reducing Kenya’s debt vulnerabilities.


Source: TRT