On Thursday, Kenya’s opposition called for a continuation of demonstrations on July 19, protesting against tax increases.
Previous protests resulted in violent and occasionally fatal clashes between police and demonstrators in various towns and cities across Kenya.
According to authorities, police opened fire in the capital city of Nairobi on Wednesday, resulting in the deaths of at least two protesters.
The officers said they were attempting to disperse a crowd that was advancing along the main expressway. Local media sources have reported that the nationwide protests led to the deaths of at least six individuals.
President William Ruto, who was elected in August of last year with a focus on assisting Kenya’s economically disadvantaged, is facing criticism from opponents who argue that the recent tax increases he approved will exacerbate the difficulties faced by Kenyans who are already struggling to afford essential commodities such as maize flour.
Raila Odinga, a seasoned opposition leader who has consistently come in second place in the last five presidential elections, disclosed that two lawmakers were among those detained for their involvement in the protest held on Wednesday.
The demonstration resulted in numerous individuals being hospitalized.
“We are not giving up in our quest to force Mr William Ruto to lower the cost of living, respect the views of Kenyans, reconstitute the (election commission) in a bipartisan manner and respect political parties,” Odinga told journalists.
According to the government, the tax increases, projected to generate an additional 200 billion shillings ($1.42 billion) annually, are necessary to address the mounting debt obligations and finance job-creation endeavors in Kenya, which boasts the largest economy in East Africa.
Kenya’s High Court suspended the tax hikes, but the government has raised petrol prices anyway, leading to a further court challenge.