One dead after tax protests in Kenyan capital Thursday

A man was fatally shot during mass protests against tax hikes in Nairobi, police said Friday.

A man died on the sidelines of mass demonstrations against proposed tax hikes in the Kenyan capital, police said Friday, with the mounting protest a day earlier also leaving 200 people injured.

A police watchdog said it was investigating allegations that the man was shot by police after Thursday’s demonstrations in Nairobi, the second this week.

Led largely by young Kenyans, the protests began in Nairobi on Tuesday before spreading nationwide.

They have been galvanised by widespread discontent over President William Ruto’s economic policies as many people already grapple with a cost-of-living crisis.

Thursday’s demonstrations in Nairobi were mostly peaceful, but officers fired tear gas and water canon throughout the day in an attempt to disperse people who gathered to protest near parliament.

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) said Friday it had “documented the death” of a 29-year-old man, “allegedly as a result of police shooting”.

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“The Authority has this morning launched investigations into the fatal shooting,” the IPOA said in a statement.

According to a Nairobi police report seen by AFP, a 29-year-old man was taken to hospital in Nairobi’s central district at around 7:00 pm (1600 GMT) on Thursday “unconscious with a thigh injury” before “succumbing” to his injuries, without giving further details.

Mathias Kinyoda, spokesman for Amnesty International Kenya, told AFP that “one demonstrator was shot yesterday in the CBD (central business district) as he was trying to run away from the police”.

Kinyoda said the person had died.

He said that the shooter “was wearing plain clothes but he was accompanying the police”, and called for an investigation.

“We saw what happened,” a witness told AFP, describing how he was among people gathered on the second floor of a building.

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“We could see police opening fire at the group that was gathered there,” the man said.

“It was a police officer in a baseball cap, because he got down from a police vehicle and ran back to it after the shooting when the crowd dispersed.”

Late Thursday, several organisations, including Amnesty International Kenya, said that at least 200 were injured in Nairobi.

The Kenyan Red Cross said on X, formerly Twitter, that eight were in critical condition.

Masses march

Thousands assembled across the country on Thursday, from the Indian Ocean city of Mombasa, to the Rift Valley city of Nakuru and Ruto’s home city of Eldoret.

Following smaller-scale demonstrations in Nairobi earlier in the week, the cash-strapped government agreed to roll back several tax hikes laid out in a new bill.

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But Ruto’s administration still intends to increase some taxes, defending the proposed levies as necessary for filling its coffers and cutting reliance on external borrowing.

After the decision to scrap levies on bread purchases, car ownership as well as financial and mobile services, the treasury warned of a 200-billion-shilling ($1.5-billion) shortfall.

The proposed taxes were projected to raise 346.7 billion shillings ($2.7 billion), equivalent to 1.9 percent of GDP, and reduce the budget deficit from 5.7 percent to 3.3 percent of GDP.

The government has now targeted an increase in fuel prices and export taxes to fill the void left by the changes, a move critics say will make life more expensive in a country battling high inflation.

Kenya is one of the most dynamic economies in East Africa but a third of its 51.5 million people lives in poverty.

– By: © Agence France-Presse

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