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Faith Nyasuguta

At least 200 people were injured and over 100 arrested in Kenya during Thursday’s nationwide protests against a government plan to raise $2.7 billion through additional taxes, as reported by an alliance of rights groups. 

These groups, which include Amnesty International and the Kenya Medical Association, stated that police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters in the capital, Nairobi. 

The groups also noted the presence of spent cartridges, suggesting that live rounds were used. The Daily Nation reported that one person died from a gunshot wound sustained during the Nairobi protest.

Nairobi county police commander Adamson Bungei did not respond to calls regarding the reported death, injuries, and arrests.

Despite the violent clashes, the rights groups praised the thousands of protesters, many of whom were young, for demonstrating peacefully and showing restraint despite police provocations. 


The protesters are demanding the government abandon the finance bill, arguing that it will worsen the economy and increase the cost of living for already struggling Kenyans. The International Monetary Fund, however, supports the government’s stance, stating that increased revenues are necessary to reduce the budget deficit and state borrowing.

Earlier this week, President William Ruto endorsed recommendations to remove some of the new levies, including those on car ownership, bread, cooking oil, and financial transactions, showing a slight softening of the government’s position. Nevertheless, the finance bill passed its second reading in parliament on Thursday, moving the proposed tax measures closer to approval. 

Lawmakers are expected to vote on the proposed changes on Tuesday. According to parliament’s budget committee, the bill, if passed without amendments, would create a Ksh200 billion ($1.56 billion) deficit in the 2024/25 budget, forcing the government to implement spending cuts.

The protests, which erupted in 19 of Kenya’s 47 counties, have marked a significant moment in the country’s socio-political landscape. A new wave of youth-led protests is challenging the government’s tax proposals, with young Kenyans spearheading the movement

This uprising, ignited by discontent over the finance bill, began on social media platforms like TikTok before spilling into the streets. Unlike previous movements, this one is not driven by political parties but by grassroots activism.

The government’s tax plans have managed to unite Kenyans across ethnic and political divides, with massive crowds braving tear gas in Nairobi to voice their opposition. 

Equipped with smartphones, protesters live-streamed their confrontations with police during the “occupy parliament” demonstrations, using social media as a tool for mobilization. The protesters, predominantly from Generation Z, dressed in black as a symbol of resistance, blending activism with contemporary fashion.

These young demonstrators, often referred to as Gen Z, are committed to translating their frustration into tangible action, not just online activism. They use platforms like TikTok to educate and mobilize their peers, amplifying their calls for change. 


Protest signs bearing slogans like “Do Not Force The Taxes On Us” and chants demanding change have become emblematic of this movement. This surge of youth activism represents a pivotal moment for Kenya’s future, highlighting the power of social media and grassroots mobilization in challenging unpopular government policies.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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