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Protests: Kenya’s Ruto Scraps Controversial Finance Bill


President William Ruto has announced his decision not to sign the controversial Finance Bill 2024, effectively withdrawing it from consideration.

This decision comes amidst escalating tensions and deadly riots across Kenya, signaling a significant shift in governmental policy.

“It has become evident that members of the public still insist on the need for us to make more concessions,” President Ruto acknowledged during his televised address.

“I run a government, but I also lead people, and the people have spoken.”

The Finance Bill 2024, which had sparked vehement opposition and demonstrations nationwide, faced a critical juncture after the National Assembly’s passage earlier this week, just prior to the outbreak of protests.

“I am grateful to all the members of the National Assembly who voted for the finance bill on Tuesday, before nationwide protests.

“Having reflected on the continuing conversation around the finance bill 2024 and listening keenly to the people of Kenya, who have said loudly that they want nothing to do with the finance bill 2024, I concede and therefore I will not sign the 2024 finance bill and it shall subsequently be withdrawn,” President Ruto declared emphatically.

At the heart of the protests is the perceived impact of the tax hikes on ordinary Kenyans. Many argue that the proposed increases would further strain household budgets already stretched thin by high food prices and utility costs.

The Finance Bill’s passage in the National Assembly exacerbated public discontent, leading to calls for its withdrawal and demands for more inclusive economic policies.

Protesters on Tuesday had invaded the Kenyan parliament and vandalised property even as policemen fired live bullets. Thirteen protesters reportedly died.

The protests have tragically claimed several lives, with reports of fatalities and injuries mounting as clashes between protesters and security forces intensified.

Human rights organizations have called for restraint and an independent investigation into alleged excessive use of force by authorities.

In Nairobi’s central business district, businesses closed early amid fears of escalating violence, while public transport services were disrupted, leaving commuters stranded.

The economic impact of the unrest is expected to be significant, with businesses and investors closely monitoring the situation for stability.

In his address, President Ruto also highlighted Kenya’s fiscal challenges and recent achievements in debt management, addressing concerns over economic stability and sovereignty.

“It is instructive for the nation to know that for every 100 shillings we collect as taxes, we spend 61 shillings in debt service,” he explained.

“We have paid Kenya’s Eurobond debt that was borrowed in 2014 of $2bn that has been hanging around our neck.”

“We paid the last instalment of $500m last week,” he added.

“Today, Kenya’s debt burden is much less, more sustainable and we’re on course to redeem our country from the discomfort of debt and assert our sovereignty.”

President Ruto’s speech marks a pivotal moment in Kenya’s political landscape, addressing both immediate public concerns and broader economic strategies amidst ongoing social unrest.

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