Chaos Erupts in Kenya as Parliament Burns Amidst Finance Bill Protests

June 25, 2024
Kenya Parliament Burns Amidst Finance Bill Protests | Report Focus News
Kenya Parliament Burns Amidst Finance Bill Protests

A tumultuous scene unfolded at Kenya’s parliament on Tuesday, as a finance bill inciting widespread unrest led to a fiery confrontation. Protesters, primarily youths, stormed the parliament building, setting part of it ablaze and prompting legislators to flee through a tunnel. The confrontation marked one of the most direct assaults on the Kenyan government in decades.

The protest erupted over a controversial finance bill that imposes new taxes amid soaring living costs in East Africa’s economic hub. Despite passionate opposition, lawmakers approved the bill, sparking further outrage. Outside the parliament, violence escalated as police opened fire, resulting in at least eight fatalities. Journalists at the scene reported seeing three bodies, while medical personnel accounted for five additional casualties. Over 30 people sustained injuries, with at least 13 suffering from gunshot wounds.

As chaos spread across Nairobi and into other cities, the government’s response was notably absent. Internet service in the country experienced significant disruptions, and President William Ruto, who was out of Nairobi attending an African Union retreat, has yet to comment.

The protests have also ignited fires at other government buildings, including the office of the Nairobi governor. Police resorted to tear gas and live ammunition to control the crowds, particularly around medical tents set up near the parliament.

In a statement that underscored the day’s violence, the Kenya Human Rights Commission released footage of police shooting at protesters and called for an immediate halt to the killings. The recent events have intensified public dissatisfaction with President Ruto, who campaigned on promises of economic relief but has since faced criticism for the new financial burdens imposed on citizens.

As the nation braces for more protests, the opposition to the finance bill has drawn together a broad swath of the population, cutting across traditional tribal lines and uniting many in their dissent against the government’s policies.

The unrest in Kenya coincides with the deployment of hundreds of the nation’s police officers to Haiti as part of a United Nations-backed force, a move that has drawn both international praise and domestic legal challenges. This international mission comes at a time when Kenya’s own internal security is under severe scrutiny, raising questions about the timing and priorities of the government’s actions.