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Kenyan leader vows crackdown amid deadly protests (VIDEO)

William Ruto says it’s unacceptable for “criminals” posing as peaceful protesters to terrorize people

The Kenyan government has mobilized all available resources to prevent a repeat of violence that occurred on Tuesday when anti-tax protesters clashed with riot police, the East African country’s president, William Ruto, has warned. The president made the remarks while addressing the nation Tuesday night, following a day of widespread protests, chaos, and fatalities in Kenya, with protesters demanding his resignation and threatening a “total shutdown.”

At least five protesters were shot and killed by police in the riot that began after lawmakers voted 195-106 to pass the government’s 2024 Finance Bill, which includes tax increases to generate $2.7 billion in revenue in response to International Monetary Fund (IMF) demands.

Thirty-one people were injured in the capital, Nairobi, according to a joint statement by Amnesty International, the Kenya Medical Association, the Law Society of Kenya, and the Police Reforms Working Group. “13 have been shot with live bullets, four with rubber bullets, and three people have been hit with launcher canisters. 11 others survived with minor injuries,” the group stated. The coalition claimed that uniformed and non-uniformed officers had kidnapped 21 people and arrested at least 52 more “over the last 24 hours.”

Kenyan-British activist Auma Obama, the half-sister of former US President Barack Obama, was teargassed while giving a live interview to CNN. Footage circulating on social media and local news channels shows the governor’s office in Nairobi ablaze, as well as a group of demonstrators trashing flags and furniture inside parliament and attempting to break down the Senate chamber doors.

Local media said security officers resorted to gunfire after tear gas and water cannons failed to disperse the crowd, which torched at least one police vehicle and set fire to a section of the National Assembly building. Lawmakers who were trapped inside were reportedly evacuated through an underground tunnel.

The country’s defense ministry later announced that the armed forces had been mobilized to help the police deal with a “security emergency caused by the ongoing violent protests in various parts” of the country, “resulting in destruction and breaching of critical infrastructure.”

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Kenyan police officers stand outside the burning parliament building in Nairobi, June 25, 2024.
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President Ruto has denounced the protests as “treasonous events” and vowed to crack down on “organized criminals” who “hijacked” the “legitimate” demonstrations and turned them into “violence and anarchy.” 

“It is not in order, or even conceivable, that criminals pretending to be peaceful protesters can reign terror against the people,” Ruto said.

On Wednesday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply saddened by the reports of deaths and injuries – including those of journalists and medical personnel – connected to protests and street demonstrations in Kenya.”

Moscow’s embassy in Kenya has advised Russian citizens in the former British colony to avoid “crowded places” and comply with the requirements of local authorities “due to the further deterioration of the situation” in the country.

June 26, 2024 at 03:44PM

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