AFRICA/KENYA - Young people take to the streets against the draft finance law

Friday, 21 June 2024 youth   economy  

Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - "Tuko wengi", "We are many" in Swahili. This is the slogan of the protests taking place in various Kenyan cities against the government's draft budget law, which provides for the introduction of new taxes. "We are many" refers to the fact that the protests are led by young people, who are the majority in Kenya. The average age in Kenya is 19, with 65% of the population under 35. Although the protests also affected other Kenyan cities, they were concentrated in the capital, Nairobi, where thousands of demonstrators marched through the main streets. Police responded by using tear gas and water cannon, killing one protester who was apparently shot by a police officer. At least 200 people were arrested by police. The protest movement, dubbed "Occupy Parliament," does not seem to have a clear leadership at present, but is strongly characterized by the dimension of the young age of the protesters. Some of the protesters interviewed by local and international media have stated that they do not want to accept the government harassment that their parents accepted. The new taxes include a 2.75% levy on income for national health insurance, as well as higher taxes on vegetable oil and fuel. President Wulliam Ruto simultaneously decided to suspend the 16% VAT on bread and the new annual tax on motor vehicles. However, protesters believe that the changes are not enough and are calling on MPs to reject the budget law in its entirety. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 21/6/2024)