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Kenya police fire teargas at anti-tax protests

Kenya police have fired rubber bullets to disperse protesters in the capital, Nairobi, amid ongoing anti-tax demonstrations across the country.

Businesses have been shut and transport has been paralysed in the city, with the police engaging in running battles with demonstrators.
The youth-led protests are calling on MPs to reject proposed tax increases.

The government, which has rowed back on some of the most controversial measures, says new taxes are needed to fund spending programmes and lessen the debt burden.

An AFP journalist was quoted as hearing a police officer tell his colleagues to ” get the rubber bullets from the box”.

The police then reportedly started firing in the air and at the protesters.

Officers have been deployed to protect various key government installations including parliament.

From the morning the anti-riot police have been using teargas to disperse the protesters amid clashes with the security officers.

There have also been huge crowds in many other parts of the country, with local Kenya newspaper the Daily Nation reporting protests in about 30 of the country’s 47 counties.

Ahead of the demonstrations, lawyers and human rights groups expressed concern about arbitrary arrests and the intimidation of activists during earlier protests.

It came amid reports of at least five prominent social media users being abducted at dawn, hours before the demonstrations.

The government has defended the taxes as necessary for raising additional revenue to reduce Kenya’s significant debt, but last week conceded to some demands.

It scrapped some contentious taxes including proposed taxes on bread, cooking oil and motor vehicle ownership in the wake of a public outcry.

But the protesters have been saying that this is not enough, and have agitated for the complete withdrawal of the bill.

Despite that, majority MPs passed the controversial bill during its second reading and were on Tuesday debating on the various amendments, to remove some of the clauses that the government has considered contentious.

At least two people died in protests and hundreds others injured in last week’s demonstrations, which were largely peaceful.

Mr Ruto acknowledged the protests and promised he will hold talks to address the concerns of the youth who are at the forefront of the protests.


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