NewsKenya in turmoil: Defence forces deployed amid growing protests

Kenya in turmoil: Defence forces deployed amid growing protests

Protests in Kenya
Protests in Kenya
Images source: © Getty Images
Mateusz Czmiel

25 June 2024 20:07

Kenyan Defence Minister Aden Duale announced that he is deploying the Kenya Defence Forces to support the police in suppressing protests that "result in the destruction and violation of critical infrastructure." Lawmakers who took refuge in the basements during the storming of parliament escaped through underground tunnels. Influential bishops have sided with the protesters. "The country is bleeding. Young people are right," they wrote in a statement.

On Tuesday, protesters wrapped in the Kenyan flag and blowing whistles battled with security forces on the streets of Kenya's capital. The massive protests that shook the country are related to the government's adoption of a controversial bill that increased taxes for millions of citizens.

Millions of Kenyans on the streets

Kenyans are facing a very difficult economic situation, which is why the law introducing new taxes has mobilised such a large part of society to protest - emphasises Reuters.

As reported by "The New York Times," the protests are being led by young people who initiated a leaderless movement using social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram.

"Politicians have underestimated our strength, energy, and passion for too long," said Muchiri Mike, a 25-year-old content creator. "We are now asking questions and demanding answers, and they are surprised by the revolution happening at their doorstep," he added.

Young Kenyans say their movement transcends class, tribe, or race and focuses on helping millions of people achieve economic security and social equality.

The Kenyan government hopes to obtain an additional £2 billion in tax revenue through reform to reduce the budget deficit. The International Monetary Fund is demanding this from the government in Nairobi and is conditioning its support for the country.

The demonstrators set fire to, among other things, the governor's office in Nairobi. They also stormed the parliament grounds. According to AP, "thousands of protesters stormed the parliament grounds, and part of the building was set on fire, while the deputies fled."

One of the lawmakers, Maurice Bissau, admitted in an interview with the media that members of parliament were evacuated through underground tunnels and that this happened immediately after the enraged crowd entered the building.

Around 7 PM Greenwich Time, Kenyan Defence Minister Aden Duale announced that he had deployed the Kenya Defence Forces to support the police, who responded to the "safety threat" caused by protests against the financial bill. He added that the protests "result in the destruction and violation of critical infrastructure."

Bishops side with the young

According to the BBC, influential Catholic bishops in Kenya call on the government to "give time to the aggrieved citizens and address the pain caused by the rising cost of living in the country."

"We beg the president to listen to the voices of so many Kenyans. The country is bleeding. (...) Young people are right to express their desperation," the bishops state.

According to the Kenya Medical Association, the police in the capital, Nairobi, shot at least five people. Additionally, a journalist from the Reuters news agency reported seeing the bodies of at least five protesters lying in front of parliament. More than 21 people were reportedly abducted by the police.

A total of 10 people have died, and more than 40 have been injured during the protests.

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