Kenya’s Ruto Pulls Finance Bill After Protests

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Otago, New Zealand. As the Africa Desk Chief for Atlas, her expertise spans conflict, politics, and history. She is also the Editor for The ModernInsurgent and has interests in yoga and meditation.

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Protests over the signing of Kenya’s Finance Bill, which sought to raise a variety of taxes in order to increase funds to pay off interest on debt repayments, have left at least 23 dead this week and injured scores more, prompting President Ruto to pull the bill.

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Protestors on Tuesday attempted to storm the country’s Parliament building in Nairobi, prompting police to fire live rounds to disperse the crowds. At least five protestors were killed instantly, with another 18 succumbing to their wounds later, according to the Kenyan Medical Association (KMA).

A statement released by President Ruto on June 26th outlined the advances the country has made under his presidency in decelerating inflation and lowering prices of essential commodities such as unga (maize meal), fertilizer, and petrol. He then noted that “Following the passage of the [finance] Bill, the country witnessed widespread expression of dissatisfaction with the bill as passed regrettably resulting in the loss of life, destruction of property and desecration of constitutional institutions. I send condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones in this unfortunate manner. Consequently, having reflected on the continuing conversation around the content of the finance bill of 2024, I will decline to assent to the Bill.”

Continuing, “Accordingly, as I committed on Sunday, I propose an engagement with young people of our nation to listen to their issues and agree with them on their priority areas of concern. I also propose that within the next 14 days, a multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder engagement be held with a view to charting the way forward on matters relating to the content of the bill as well as auxiliary issues raised in recent days on the need for austerity measures and strengthening our fight against corruption.”

Despite Ruto’s concessions, the hashtags ‘TuputaneThursday’ (see you Thursday), ‘OccupyStateHouse,’ and ‘RutoMustGo’ are trending today on X (formerly Twitter), with signs pointing towards a continuation of protests.