Protests continue in Kenya as some are now calling for the president to step down


NAIROBI, Kenya — Protests continued in Kenya’s capital and elsewhere Tuesday over a finance bill that would raise the cost of living, even after the president said he would not sign it in the wake of the storming of parliament last week.

Protesters block the busy Nairobi - Mombasa highway in the Mlolongo area, Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, July 2, 2024. Protests have continued to rock several towns in Kenya including the capital Nairobi, despite the president saying he will not sign a controversial finance bill that sparked deadly protests last week. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)

Police fired tear gas at protesters in Nairobi as many businesses remained closed for fear of looting. The main highway to Kenya’s second largest city, Mombasa, was closed as protesters lit bonfires.

While there are concerns that President William Ruto might change his mind and sign the finance bill before next week’s deadline, some protesters also are calling on Ruto to resign and accusing him of bad governance.

But some members of the youth-led protests have expressed worries that other Kenyans are using the unrest as an excuse to cause violence. “Goons have infiltrated,” one organizer, Hanifa Farsafi, wrote on social media platform X on Tuesday,

Last week’s protests were deadly as police opened fire. The two weeks of protests have left 39 people dead, according to the Kenya National Human Rights Commission. Ruto on Sunday put that number at 19.

The president has offered to have dialogue with Kenyan youth and has promised budget cuts on travel and hospitality for his office in line with some protesters’ demands. As unemployment remains high and prices rise, there has been outrage over the luxurious lives of the president and other senior officials.

Members of the youthful but leaderless protest movement have said they do not trust the president to implement his new austerity plans.

Kenya’s main opposition party on Tuesday called on Ruto’s government to take responsibility for the deaths that occurred last week.

Economist Ken Gichinga told The Associated Press that the government should undertake a different approach to tax reforms that will allow the economy to thrive.

“The Gen Zs are the most affected by the unemployment,” Gichinga said.

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