Kenyan police open fire on protesters as crowd attempts to storm parliament | Kenya

Police opened fire on protesters outside Kenya’s parliament as they tried to storm the building while MPs inside passed legislation to increase taxes.

Police began shooting after tear gas and water cannons failed to disperse a crowd of thousands that had overwhelmed officers. Flames could be seen coming from inside the building.

A paramedic said at least 10 people had died and a Reuters journalist outside parliament counted the bodies of at least five protesters.

“We want to close parliament and all MPs should resign,” one protester, Davis Tafari, told the news agency. “We will have a new government.”

Protesters oppose tax increases in a country reeling from a cost of living crisis, with many also calling for President William Ruto to resign. Protests and clashes also occurred in other cities and towns in the country.

Ruto won an election nearly two years ago on a platform defending Kenya’s working poor, but has been caught between competing demands from lenders such as the International Monetary Fund, which are urging the government to reduce deficits to access more financing. , and a hard-pressed population.

Kenyans have been struggling to cope with several economic crises brought on by the lingering impact of the Covid pandemic, the war in Ukraine, two consecutive years of droughts and currency depreciation.

Parliament approved the finance bill on Tuesday and moved it to a third reading by lawmakers. The next step is to send the legislation to the president for his signature. You can return it to parliament if you have any objections.

The finance bill aims to raise an additional $2.7 billion in taxes as part of an effort to ease the heavy burden of debt, as interest payments alone consume 37% of annual income.

The government has already made concessions, promising to scrap proposed new taxes on bread, cooking oil, car ownership and financial transactions. But that has not been enough to satisfy the protesters.

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