Wednesday, July 24

Kenyan Parliament approves tax law amid controversy

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Kenyan lawmakers passed a controversial finance bill on Tuesday, sparking outrage as thousands marched on parliament in Nairobi. Protesters called on the government to reject the proposed tax hikes, saying they would disproportionately burden Kenyans.

Clashes broke out as police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. Footage captured by international media showed the chaotic scene, including the use of force against protesters. Reports of human rights activists being kidnapped ahead of the protest also emerged, raising concerns about freedom of expression.

The proposed legislation has set off a firestorm across Kenya. The East African nation, known for its relative stability, witnessed days of nationwide demonstrations. Human rights groups have documented at least one death and hundreds of injuries during last week’s protests. In particular, a prominent figure, Auma Obama, half-sister of former US president Barack Obama, was allegedly involved in the dispersion of tear gas.

President William Ruto’s administration introduced the bill in May to address the country’s ballooning debt and generate revenue. However, critics fiercely oppose the bill, citing the inclusion of punitive taxes on essential goods and services that would increase the cost of living.

The legislation now awaits President Ruto’s signature within the next two weeks. He can either enact it as law or return it to Parliament for revisions.

Kenyans highlight what they perceive as extravagant public spending and a lack of transparency in the management of public funds. The public outcry extends to President Ruto’s perceived move away from campaign promises to prioritize the well-being of low-income Kenyans. Opposition lawmakers vehemently rejected the bill in its entirety.

Despite some concessions, such as the removal of taxes on bread and cooking oil, protesters remain resolute in their demands. Many shared their experiences of intimidation and threats that led to the demonstrations, vowing to remain resolute in their fight against the law.

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