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Kenya: Several dead as Police opens fire on protesters trying to storm Parliament Building while opposing tax hikes

Meanwhile, hundreds of MPs, who could not leave the parliament, have been rushed to the basement.  

On Tuesday, June 25, in Kenya, several people were feared dead after Police opened fire at protesters who tried to storm the Parliament building as protests against tax hikes descended into violence and chaos. The protesters have set parts of the Parliament building on fire and plumes of smoke can be seen in videos doing rounds on social media. Meanwhile, hundreds of MPs, who could not leave the parliament, have been rushed to the basement.  

Police opened fire after tear gas and water cannons failed to disperse the crowds. According to news agency Reuters, a journalist counted the bodies of at least five protesters outside parliament. A paramedic, Vivian Achista, said that at least 10 had been shot dead. Another 50 people are said to have suffered gunshot wounds and it is feared that the casualty figures may rise.   

(Masked protester showing bullet casing during protest against tax hikes in Kenya, Image Source – BBC)

Chaotic scenes erupted near the Kenyan Parliament building when MPs were debating the controversial finance bill before passing it. Soon, gunshots were heard as the disputed finance bill was passed. While police opened fire, several protesters stormed the Parliament building. Police are trying to ensure the safety of MPs as hundreds of them were unable to leave the parliament when protesters breached the complex. Local media reported that most MPs have taken cover in a basement.

(Police in riot geares, resorted to tear gas shelling and firing to prevent violent protesters from entering Kenyan Parliament, Image Source – BBC)

BBC reported that protesters have damaged a section of parliament where a huge plume of smoke can be seen. As per Live TV footage, the protesters vandalised the parliament building and damaged a section of its structure. Additionally, windows and chairs inside the parliament can be seen as broken. 

In one of the viral videos, several protesters could be seen pulling apart a stand that displays flags in the Parliament building and smashing the poles against the floor. Another man kicked the doors to the senate. 

It is pertinent to note that the protests are mainly Gen-Z-led rallies, which began last week over demands to scrap the finance bill that proposes tax hikes. The protesters have caught the government off guard and forced President William Ruto to say over the weekend that he was ready to talk to the protesters. 

However, protests on Tuesday afternoon turned violent as crowds started to throw stones at police and push back against barricades while attempting to storm the parliament complex. 

Meanwhile, protests and clashes have also taken place in several other cities and towns across Kenya. 

As per reports, the said finance bill seeks to generate an extra $2.7 billion in taxes to help reduce the substantial debt burden, as interest payments alone account for 37% of the annual revenue. Despite the government making concessions by agreeing to eliminate proposed new taxes on bread, cooking oil, car ownership, and financial transactions, these measures have not been sufficient to appease the protesters. The protesters who were initially demanding the reversal of tax hikes have now started demanding the resignation of President William Ruto. 

A protester Davis Tafari, who was trying to enter parliament, told Reuters, “We want to shut down parliament and every MP should go down and resign. We will have a new government.”

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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