Home NewsAfrica President Ruto Commends Peaceful Protests, Pledges Open Dialogue with Kenyan Youth

President Ruto Commends Peaceful Protests, Pledges Open Dialogue with Kenyan Youth

by Thaabit Kamaar
Source Image: Africa.Com

Kenya – Amidst nationwide demonstrations, where many young Kenyan citizens vehemently oppose the proposed tax increases, President William Ruto reaffirmed his government’s commitment to addressing their concerns.

In a speech delivered on Sunday, President Ruto commended the peaceful conduct of the young demonstrators, assured them that their voices were being heard, and promised to engage with them through open dialogue, which could potentially lead to a revision of the proposed tax increases.

“I am very proud of our young people. They have stepped forward peacefully, and I want to tell them we are going to engage them. We are going to have a conversation so that together we can build a greater nation.”

The demonstrations, which began last Tuesday, accuse President Ruto’s administration of breaking promises to reduce taxes and lower the cost of living.

Additionally, Political Analyst Ayesha Kajee noted that people are also angered by the administration’s lavish spending on non-essential items and the rising salaries of Kenyan MPs. At the same time, average citizens continue to endure economic hardship.

“This thoroughly neoliberal finance bill is going to put Kenya even more in debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and that is why most Kenyans don’t want it. They say it’s going to make the poor even poorer.”

“It’s going to make surviving more difficult for those at the bottom end of the financial spectrum. Those who are currently living in poverty or close to the poverty line are going to be further subjected to hardship by this bill and its very draconian measures.”

The Heavy-Handed Response to the Protest

The protests were organised digitally, using social media platforms, and led by young people, with significant support from various civil society actors who were crucial in mobilising participants. While the demonstrations were intended to be peaceful, reports indicated escalating clashes between protesters and law enforcement.

This escalation resulted in hundreds of arrests and injuries among protesters, with allegations that some individuals had lost their lives due to the injuries sustained by the police.

Despite the escalation and the heavy-handed response from law enforcement, the Kenyan people remain undeterred. As such, until their demands are met, Kajee expects the efforts of demonstrators to intensify and continue.

“The Kenyan urban population, particularly in both Nairobi and Mombasa, has mobilised sufficiently that even with a fairly heavy-handed response from the administration, we’re going to see these protests continue. They’re well-organised, broad-based, and not just from opposition political parties.”

“So at least tomorrow and Thursday, I expect we’ll see more protests. I also expect the government to make some form of u-turn on the proposed financial measures, even though they may not scrap the bill in its entirety.”

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