Kenya Youth Protesters Gear Up For Nationwide Strike

(@ChaudhryMAli88)

Kenya youth protesters gear up for nationwide strike

Nairobi, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 25th Jun, 2024) Kenya braced for a nationwide strike Tuesday in response to a call by youth protesters for a countrywide shutdown, as opposition to the government's proposed tax hikes gathers momentum.

The mainly Gen-Z-led demonstrations have taken President William Ruto's government by surprise, with the Kenyan leader saying over the weekend that he was ready to speak with the protesters.

Discontent over the already high cost of living spiralled into nationwide rallies last week, sparked by the Ruto administration's proposed tax hikes in the annual finance bill, which parliament must vote on by June 30.

The protests were mostly peaceful, as Ruto noted Sunday in his first public comments on the demonstrations. But the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) watchdog and rights groups said that two people had died following Thursday's rallies.

Protest organisers called for the police to be held accountable and reiterated their demands for the finance bill to be scrapped in its entirety.

"We're past the talking stage and won't be silenced. We demand an end to police violence, respect for our constitutional rights, and the freedom to speak up without fear of arrest or harm," Hanifa Adan told AFP Sunday.

Several organisations, including Amnesty International Kenya, said at least 200 people were wounded in the protests in Nairobi.

"The country stands at a crossroads," Amnesty's Kenya chapter said in a statement Monday.

"Despite mass arrests and injuries, the protests have continued to grow, emphasising the public's widespread discontent."

Amnesty added that the movement leaves government and police at a "critical juncture, where the escalation of force could lead to more fatalities and legal repercussions."