Nairobi — Kenyan police have used tear gas on opposition-led protesters, who were demonstrating Friday against tax hikes, including the doubling of a tax on fuel.
Thousands of protesters marched through streets in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, and other towns, demanding the state abolish recently hiked taxes. They carried placards that read “Tumechoka,” which means “We are tired” in Swahili.
Gacheke Gachihi, the coordinator of the Mathare Social Justice center that co-organized the protest, said the bill had a huge impact on people.
“Immediately [after] the finance bill was passed, the cost of petrol, diesel was increased, immediately the cost of traveling skyrocketed,” Gachihi said. “Many people were affected, and you know even before the bill was signed the court had stopped the implementation of the finance bill.”
Police fired tear gas to disperse the swelling crowds. Dozens of people were arrested in the protests, arrests that Irungu Houghton, director of Amnesty International Kenya, described as arbitrary.
“It is really shocking that several arrests have been made of protesters from what we can see from social media or mass media and our monitors in Nairobi,” Houghton said. “They were essentially peaceful protests against the cost of living and the recent tax provisions that have been introduced by the Kenya Kwanza government.”
Kenya’s opposition leader, Raila Odinga, called for an anti-government protest over the impact of the taxes on Kenyans. Kenya President Willaim Ruto said the tax hikes are essential to addressing debt repayment and for creating jobs.