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Independent Africa"I concede" - Ruto refuses to sign Finance bill into law after...

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“I concede” – Ruto refuses to sign Finance bill into law after deadly protests in Kenya

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Kenya’s President William Ruto has declared his decision to withdraw the Finance Bill 2024 following widespread and deadly protests across the country.

The bill, which included controversial tax hikes, sparked massive demonstrations culminating in violent clashes and the torching of parliament buildings on Tuesday.

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In a televised address to the nation, President Ruto acknowledged the vehement opposition from Kenyans towards the Finance Bill, stating, “Listening keenly to the people of Kenya who have said loudly that they want nothing to do with this Finance Bill 2024, I concede.”

He announced that he will not sign the bill into law, effectively withdrawing it.

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The protests, which erupted nationwide, resulted in at least 22 deaths, according to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. Demonstrators, predominantly young people, expressed outrage over the proposed tax increases, which they argued would exacerbate the country’s already severe cost-of-living crisis.

Initially responding with a military deployment and a stern warning against violence, President Ruto reversed course in the face of escalating public anger and condemnation. He pledged to engage in dialogue with the protesters, emphasizing their role in shaping national policy.

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The unrest saw protesters storming parliament, vandalizing its interior, and setting parts of the complex ablaze. The symbolic mace, representing legislative authority, was stolen during the chaos.

Human rights organizations and international bodies condemned the use of live ammunition by security forces during the protests. Wanjeri Nderu of the International Society For Human Rights described the scene as akin to war, highlighting excessive force by police.

Catholic bishops and the Law Society of Kenya also denounced the violent crackdown on protesters and called for restraint from security forces.

In response to the escalating crisis, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed deep sadness over the deaths and injuries, urging Kenyan authorities to exercise restraint and ensure peaceful demonstrations.

The Finance Bill, which originally proposed taxes on essential commodities such as bread and cooking oil, as well as mobile money services and medical facilities, faced widespread opposition from various sectors of Kenyan society. With its withdrawal now confirmed, President Ruto aims to quell unrest and initiate a process of national reconciliation.

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