Kenyan authorities said on Wednesday that six people had died in anti-government protests. Protesters wanted to express their anger over new taxes, but the national police chief had decided to ban such gatherings.
Six people were killed on Wednesday (12 July) in several Kenyan towns during anti-government protests banned by authorities against new taxes as authorities threatened to end the “culture of impunity” in the country.
“Lives have been lost, scores of law enforcement officers and civilians have been seriously injured and unimaginable losses to the country’s economy have been caused,” Home Affairs Minister Kithure said in a statement. Kindiki, condemning “general violence” and “looting”.
“This culture of impunity will end,” he warned.
A police source, who requested anonymity, had earlier reported “three deaths in Mlolongo” near the capital Nairobi, “where a group of protesters had blocked the road to protest and we also have two more in Kitengela and one in Emali respectively”, located 30 km and 120 km south of the capital. The figure was confirmed in these three cities by another police source.
“Some (rioters) were killed” during a “confrontation with police officers deployed to quell the unrest,” the first police source said.
Another policeman confirmed “the deaths in Mlolongo, Emali and Kitengela”, without giving further details.
In Nairobi’s Kangemi slum, dozens of children were hospitalized, some unconscious, after tear gas was fired near their classrooms, the clinic’s director told AFP.
“We have transported 53 of them to the hospital and they are all in stable condition and waiting to be discharged,” he said.
Rallies on Wednesday in several cities across the country were marred by clashes throughout the day between protesters and security forces, with the former throwing stones and the latter responding with tear gas, particularly in Nairobi’s Mathare slum.
Police also used tear gas to disperse protesters in the southern port city of Mombasa.
At the beginning of the anti-government mobilization, Kenyan veteran Raila Odinga, several times unsuccessful presidential candidate, had earlier in the day accused the police of “shooting, wounding and killing protesters”, especially in Nairobi.
“These gatherings are peaceful until the police decide to disperse them with bullets and tear gas,” he also said during a press conference.
In the Kangemi slum on the outskirts of Nairobi, around 50 children have been hospitalized when tear gas was fired near their classrooms.
Some were transported “unconscious”, but they “are all in stable condition”, the head of a health center in Kangemi told AFP.
Demonstrations every week
The head of the national police had banned the demonstrations that the opposition had planned for Wednesday on Tuesday, on the grounds that the latter would not have alerted the authorities.
These incidents come days after other deadly protests against President William Ruto’s government in several cities across the country. At least six people were killed last Friday during these demonstrations, according to the Interior Ministry. NGOs have condemned violent police repression.
Last Friday, demonstrations took place in several cities at the call of Raila Odinga.
“These meetings will remain peaceful until the police decide to disperse them with bullets and tear gas,” Raila Odinga said on Wednesday.
“The police shot and injured and killed protesters in different parts of the country, including here in Nairobi,” he said, indicating that he would not address his supporters in the capital for fear of their safety.
On Friday, police fired tear gas at his convoy in Nairobi. She had done the same to spread rallies in Mombasa (South) and Kisumu (West).
On Saturday, activists said police used tear gas against civil society representatives demanding the release of dozens of people arrested during protests.
Kenya’s Human Rights Commission has called for an investigation into all reported incidents involving the police.
Opposition to President Ruto
Raila Odinga’s Azimio alliance, which was defeated by William Ruto in the August 2022 presidential election, which he believes was “stolen” from him, intends to organize demonstrations every week against government policies.
Many Kenyans, hard hit by price and tax hikes, say they cannot bear the disruption caused by the protests and see little improvement in their situation in the short term.
According to a private sector organization, Kepsa, each day of mobilization represents a loss of 3 billion shillings (about 19 million euros) to the country’s economy.
Between March and May, the Azimio opposition coalition organized anti-government demonstrations that authorities said left three people dead.
In early July, President Ruto issued a Finance Bill which introduces a series of new taxes despite criticism from the opposition and the people of this country, which is suffering from high inflation.
In particular, the text allows for an increase in the VAT on fuel from 8 to 16% as well as an unpopular payroll tax to finance an affordable housing program.