Criminals hijack Kenya protests


Brave Kenyan youths force government to rescind their Finance Bill through massive protests

from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
Kenya Bureau
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – PEACEFUL protests against high taxation in Kenya have descended into a spree of looting and destruction of infrastructure.

This gives credence to the assertion by the government that the Gen Z movement mobilizing the demonstrations against the Finance Bill has been infiltrated by criminals.

There are fears the escalating situation could batter the tourism industry, which is a major sector in the East African country.

On Tuesday, criminality characterised the protests in the capital Nairobi and some other parts of Kenya, including Kisumu, Kisii, Mombasa and Migori.

In most protests, streets turned into a battlefield between citizens and police.

Some shops were burnt and properties such as hotels vandalised. Some entrepreneurs have shut their shops since protests intensified at the end of June.

Protesters threw objects at police while the law enforcers responded with teargas, and there were some rubber bullets fired.

In the evening, the Kenyatta National Hospital reported receiving 25 injured victims from Tuesday’s anti-government protests.

Some schools closed early and sent students home.

In Kisumu, police stopped protesters from marching to the State Lodge.

An unspecified number of people were arrested.

Lawyers reported they were denied access to them.

“Unfortunately, we will not be let into Central Police Station tonight (Tuesday),” said lawyer, James Wa Njeri.

He said this was in violation of the Constitution.

“The attempts to treat the Constitution like a piece of paper should be loudly condemned,” Wa Njeri said.

Amnesty International appealed, “We call on the Government of Kenya and the police to exercise restraint and protect citizens’ right to protest, release all those abducted and currently detained and respect the roles of doctors, lawyers, journalists and human rights defenders.”

Government on Tuesday issued a stern warning.

“The organizers of today’s (Tuesday) orgy of violence in parts of Nairobi, Mombasa and other parts of the country are reportedly planning to repeat their anarchic chaos and cruel plunder again on Thursday and Sunday, and perhaps much more frequently in the future,” said Kindure Khindiki, Cabinet Secretary for Interior and National Administration.

“This reign of terror against the people of Kenya and the impunity of dangerous criminal gangs must end at whatever cost. The government is determined to stop criminals aiming to terrorise the public and harm Kenya, notwithstanding attempts to politicise crime.”

Initially, protests were against the Finance Bill but have morphed into protests demanding the resignation of President William Ruto.

He has been in power since 2022.

Last week, president Ruto rejected the Finance Bill, assuring he would not sign it into law.

There are concerns that political instability could impact the tourism industry and subsequently the economy.

Tourism is Kenya’s largest foreign exchange earner.

The Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) assured stakeholders and tourists that the majority of the nation remained “secure and hospitable.”

“Prominent tourist destinations, including national parks, coastal areas and cultural heritage sites continue to operate normally, bolstered by heightened security measures to guarantee a safe and pleasant experience for all visitors,” Fred Odek, KTF chairman said.

He added, “We are confident that through constructive dialogue, mutual respect and steadfast commitment to peace, we can surmount the present challenges and continuous journey towards a harmonious and prosperous Kenya.”

– CAJ News

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