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Locations affected: Kenya

What:

Violent protests erupted across Kenya on 25th June in response to a controversial finance bill. Clashes between police and demonstrators occurred in several cities, including Nairobi. Police used tear gas, water cannons, and live ammunition to disperse the crowds, while protesters hurled rocks at the officers. The unrest resulted in at least 40 injuries and five deaths.

Why:

The finance bill includes numerous economic measures, such as introducing taxes on digital products and increasing import taxes and levies on financial transactions. Peaceful street demonstrations have been ongoing since 18th June, with protesters also calling for the resignation of President William Ruto. The protests turned violent after the bill was passed by parliament, amid a severe cost-of-living crisis gripping the country. The bill now awaits the president’s decision, who has 14 days to either sign it into law or return it to parliament with proposed amendments.

So What:

  • As the tax bill was debated, riot police cordoned off the parliament building and Statehouse, the latter being the president’s office and residence. Despite these measures, protesters managed to breach the nearby parliamentary complex.
  • Military forces were called in to support police officers against the protesters.
  • Fires were reported at the governor’s office, the parliamentary building, and City Hall. Vehicles parked at the Supreme Court were also set ablaze.
  • During protests, Kenya, Burundi, and Uganda experienced a widespread internet shutdown officially attributed to an outage of two undersea cables. The timing of this outage raised suspicions among civil groups about a possible connection to the protests, despite assurances from Kenya’s Communications Authority the previous day that there would be no deliberate disruptions.
  • Foreign governments of multiple countries, including India and the United States, have issued advisories for its citizens in Kenya, urging them to exercise utmost caution, limit non-essential movement, and avoid areas affected by protests and violence until the situation stabilizes.

Outlook:

Demonstrations are expected to continue in the country in the coming days, with an increased risk of further violence. President Ruti has urged strict measures against participants in the protests on 25th June. The Kenya Human Rights Commission has accused authorities of abducting protesters, while the primary opposition coalition, Azimio, critical of the government’s response, may plan additional actions. Heightened security measures around aforementioned areas and government buildings are expected, potentially causing travel restrictions and delays. There is also a possibility of disruptions to internet access and communication. Organizations are advised to stay informed about the situation and avoid high-risk areas.

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