Kenyan police fire tear gas to disperse protesters over tax hike

Kenyan police fire tear gas to disperse protesters over tax hike

Kenyan police on Friday used tear gas to disperse demonstrators protesting against a new finance law that doubled the fuel tax and imposed a housing levy on workers.

The rallies were called by opposition leader Raila Odinga to oppose tax increases that were enforced despite a court-ordered suspension, and came at a time when many Kenyans were already struggling with high costs of essential necessities such as maize flour.

Reuters reported that footage released on the privately owned television channel KTN News showed automobiles scrambling to turn around on a tear-gas soaked street in the port city of Mombasa, as demonstrators fled on foot.

More teargas was fired in Nairobi, according to the private Daily Nation newspaper, as police attempted to disperse demonstrators who had barricaded sections of two roadways.

Shops and businesses remained open in the major central business district.

President William Ruto says the increase in taxes, which are estimated to earn his administration an additional 200 billion shillings ($1.42 billion) each year, are necessary to assist in dealing with rising debt repayments and finance job-creation plans.

The police have let the opposition’s main protests take place, but have warned against the destruction of property and businesses.

The High Court temporarily halted the implementation of the finance law last week, but the government increased retail fuel prices nevertheless, compelling the opposition senator who filed the lawsuit to seek jail time for the head of the energy sector regulator.

Kenya, like many other countries in Africa, is struggling with revenue generation, high inflation and heavy tax repayment.


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