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Kenya Protests: Tear Gas and Water Cannons Used as Demonstrations Against Finance Bill Persist

In Kenya, protests against a controversial finance bill have escalated into widespread unrest, with police clashing violently with demonstrators across several cities despite President William Ruto’s pledge not to sign the bill into law.

In the capital city of Nairobi, riot police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters on Tuesday. Similar scenes unfolded in Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, and Nyeri, where hundreds took to the streets chanting slogans demanding President Ruto’s resignation.

The protests, which began in June in response to proposed tax increases, have intensified following the deaths of at least 39 people, according to the Kenya National Human Rights Commission. The deadliest incident occurred on June 25 when police reportedly fired on crowds attempting to storm the parliament complex in Nairobi. Over 360 people have been injured during the demonstrations, drawing widespread condemnation for what rights groups describe as excessive police force.

Despite President Ruto retracting his support for the bill after it passed parliament, demonstrators remain distrustful, fearing he could still enact it before its official expiration. His televised response to the deaths, where he acknowledged a lower death toll and defended the security force’s actions as necessary against “criminals,” has further fueled public anger.

Protesters, largely led by youth groups, accuse Ruto of prioritizing financial concerns over the welfare of the people. They criticize the government’s economic policies, which they argue exacerbate social inequality and fail to address widespread poverty and unemployment.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has voiced support for the protests, aligning with demonstrators’ demands for accountability and meaningful change. His party, ODM, has called for swift action to address the grievances of the youth, warning of dire consequences if their demands are ignored.

As tensions continue to mount, Kenya faces a critical juncture where political stability hinges on the government’s response to the protests and its willingness to engage with the broader issues driving public discontent.

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