Police use tear gas as protesters take to streets over tax hikes in Kenya

Police use tear gas as protesters take to streets over tax hikes in Kenya

Opposition leader's Azimio alliance calls for countrywide protests to mount pressure on government to lower taxes, cost of living

By Andrew Wasike

NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) – Kenya witnessed a wave of protests on Friday as demonstrators took to the streets across major cities, demanding an end to tax hikes.

However, what began as a peaceful protest quickly escalated into clashes and chaos.

Traffic came to a standstill on major highways as protesters erected stone barricades, bringing vehicular movement to a halt.

Running battles between the police and demonstrators ensued, with tear gas filling the air and adding to the atmosphere of tension and unrest.

Law enforcement agencies responded to the protests by using tear gas and arresting protesters who defied orders to disperse.

The scenes turned violent as clashes erupted between protesters and the police, resulting in numerous arrests and reports of injuries.

Under the banner of opposition leader Raila Odinga's Azimio alliance, thousands of Kenyans participated in the countrywide demonstrations, expressing their frustration with the recently implemented finance law.

The law has not only doubled fuel taxes but also introduced a housing levy, exacerbating the already burdensome cost of living.

Addressing a gathering of over 2,000 supporters at Kamukunji grounds in the capital Nairobi, Odinga criticized the government's inability to tackle the soaring living expenses that have plagued ordinary citizens.

He maintained that the cost of living must go down, threatening more countrywide protests if the government does not address the grievances of the people.

His alliance, representing a significant opposition force, urged the public to take to the streets in a peaceful demonstration against the financial measures.

The government headed by Kenyan President William Ruto on the other hand, has defended its decision to implement the tax hikes as necessary to generate revenue and fund essential services.

However, critics argue that the burden falls disproportionately on the already struggling population, deepening the socioeconomic divide and worsening living conditions.

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