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Kenyan police declare zero tolerance on violent protests

The East African nation experienced widespread unrest once again on Tuesday as demonstrators called for the president’s resignation

Kenyan authorities have vowed to crack down on violent protests after the East African country experienced more unrest in the capital, Nairobi, and other areas on Tuesday. Police fired tear gas at stone-throwing anti-government protesters, who continue to demand the resignation of President William Ruto.

The renewed nationwide demonstrations come a week after at least 39 people were killed and over 360 others injured in clashes between riot police and protesters opposing the IMF-backed 2024 Finance Bill, according to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

President Ruto announced last week that he would withdraw the legislation, but protesters are concerned that he will reconsider and sign it. On Sunday, Ruto stated that dropping the bill has set the country back two years and will force Nairobi to borrow $7.6 billion to fund the government.

On Tuesday, protesters in the capital and the coastal city of Mombasa demanded Ruto’s resignation, accusing him of poor governance. According to Reuters, the rallies began in a peaceful mood but later turned violent, with riot police charging at protesters in Nairobi’s downtown business district. A kiosk was set on fire in the center of a street, and police hurled tear gas bombs into the crowds, the outlet added.

The main highway to Mombasa, which is also Kenya’s second-largest city, was closed as protesters lit bonfires, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Protesters burned five vehicles outside a hotel, whose owner had been accused of shooting at looters, the report said. Local broadcaster NTV also reported two people shot in Mombasa.

Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) announced on Tuesday that it had arrested 204 suspects in Nairobi and its environs, 35 in the coastal region, 18 in Nyanza, and several others in the Rift Valley and eastern regions.

The DCI stated that it is determined to “stop criminals aiming to terrorize the public and harm Kenya,” as organizers reportedly plan to “repeat their anarchic chaos and cruel plunder again” on Thursday and Sunday.

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The Kenyan government has claimed that “criminals” are using youth-led protests to incite violence. Last week, President Ruto declared a crackdown on “organized criminals” who hijacked “legitimate” demonstrations and turned them into “violence and anarchy” after a section of the National Assembly was set ablaze and police fired live rounds to disperse protesters.

Mohammed Ali, an MP for Nyali in Mombasa County, and some supporters of the youth-led marches claimed on X (formerly Twitter) that “goons” had infiltrated the planned demonstrations.

The insurgents, according to Ali, have “torched vehicles, robbed innocent women and men while on motorbikes, and vandalized businesses, which is a clear indication that there are other forces at play that seek to see this country burn and undo over 60 years of development.”

July 03, 2024 at 03:52PM

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