MPs drop punitive taxes as protests rock Kenya

Kenyan activist Ojiro Odhiambo protests against the Finance Bill, 2024 at Kimathi Street, Nairobi on June 18, 2024. PHOTO | STEVE OTIENO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The Law Society of Kenya condemned police interference on the Finance Bill protests, warning of legal action against unlawful directives.

Kenya’s National Assembly’s Finance Committee has bowed to pressure from different stakeholders and dropped a number of contentious clauses in the Finance Bill, 2024, even as Kenyans took to the streets in Nairobi on Tuesday morning to protest against the proposed laws.

The committee is today afternoon expected to table its report, with recommendations, in the House.

This comes as ruling Kenya Kwanza and opposition Azimio MPs were summoned by their respective leaderships to meetings Tuesday to firm up positions on the Bill.

Kenya Kwanza’s Parliamentary Group, which was chaired by President William Ruto at State House on Tuesday, comes as his emboldened deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, has been accused of inciting MPs associated with him to shoot down the Bill over its punitive proposals.

Azimio has also urged its members to shoot it down, but with the committee recommending the deletion of the punitive taxes, it remains to be seen how the MPs will approach the debate on the Bill.

In an address to the nation, the Kimani Kuria-led committee announced the proposed changes, noting that they were informed by the inflationary pressures confronting a lot of Kenyans.  

Protests

It was running battles Tuesday morning as police arrested dozens of protesters on the streets of Nairobi opposing the Finance Bill 2024. 

Earlier, police had declared the demonstrations illegal.

The protests dubbed 'Occupy Parliament', are aimed at pressuring lawmakers not to pass the Bill.

Demonstrators' plan to march to Parliament was temporarily thwarted by anti-riot police, who fired tear gas canisters on them along the Nairobi streets. Scores of demo organisers and rights activists were arrested.

The Law Society of Kenya condemned police interference on the Finance Bill protests, warning of legal action against unlawful directives.

LSK President Faith Odhiambo said they are "closely monitoring today's events and will take legal action to hold Mr Adamson Bungei and any officer who violates the rights of protesters on his orders personally liable for any violations of the Constitution and the National Police Service Act". Mr Bungei is the Nairobi Regional Commander.