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Probe launched as 1 killed in Kenya anti-tax protest

June 21, 2024

Kenya saw nationwide demonstrations on Thursday against government plans to raise taxes to plug a budget deficit. Rights groups allege that police used live rounds while dispersing the protests.

Protesters against tax hike in Nairobi, Kenya as police deploy tear gas on June 20, 2024.
One man was killed and hundreds injured as protesters were dispersed by police in Kenya, according to a police watchdog and rights groupsImage: LUIS TATO/AFP/Getty Images

One person was killed and at least 200 were injured in protests across Kenya, a police watchdog and rights groups said on Friday.

The East African country saw nationwide protests on Thursday against government plans to raise $2.7 billion (€2.5 billion) in taxes.

What do we know about the protests?

Five rights groups said in a joint statement that police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters in Kenya's capital, Nairobi.

Among the groups were the London-based Amnesty International and the Kenya Medical Association.

The statement said that the presence of spent cartridges implied the use of live rounds by police.

Amnesty later said that over 100 protesters had been arrested.

"We commend the several thousands of protesters, many of whom are youthful, for picketing peacefully [and] exhibiting restraint and decorum despite provocation by police," the rights groups said.

The Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA), a state authority set up to oversee and investigate policing operations, said on Friday that it had documented the death of a man "allegedly as a result of police shooting and several serious injuries suffered by other demonstrators including police officers." An investigation has been launched, the IPOA added.

News agencies cited a police report as saying that the 29-year-old man died as he was receiving treatment to a wound on his thigh.

Amnesty International spokesperson Mathias Kinyoda told the French AFP news agency that the man was shot as he was trying to run away from police.

What are the protesters' demands?

Protesters argue that the government's new finance bill on raising taxes will weaken the economy and raise the cost of living for Kenyans.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that Kenya's government needs to increase revenues to reduce the budget deficit.

Lawmakers are expected to meet on Tuesday to vote on proposed changes to the bill.

Kenyan lawmaskers advance tax bill amid protests

sdi/rmt (AFP, Reuters)