UPDATE - Kenyan president sends controversial finance bill back to parliament

UPDATE - Kenyan president sends controversial finance bill back to parliament

Tax hikes in legislation passed by parliament led to countrywide protests; several people were shot dead

UPDATES WITH PRESIDENT'S LETTER TO PARLIAMENT, CHANGES HEADLINE, EDITS THROUGHOUT

By Andrew Wasike

NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) - Citing widespread public dissatisfaction, Kenyan President William Ruto on late Wednesday refused to sign into law a controversial finance bill that led to nationwide protests and several people being shot dead, and sent it back to parliament for amendment.

Protesters had ransacked the parliament after Finance Bill 2024 was passed by lawmakers on Tuesday. The bill would have increased taxes and funds for the government to pay off debt, but also the cost of living. The protests began in the capital and had spread to other parts of Kenya.

In a letter to parliament, Ruto recommended lawmakers to reconsider the bill, and vote to delete all provisions related to the proposed tax hikes.

“In exercise of the powers conferred to me by Article 115 (1) (b) of the Constitution and having reservations on the contents of the Bill in its entirety, I decline to assent to the Finance Bill, 2024, and refer the Bill for reconsideration by the National Assembly with the recommendation for the deletion of all the clauses thereof,” the Kenyan leader said.

Earlier in the day, Ruto said he accepted that Kenyans had "loudly" rejected the tax bill.

"Having reflected on the continuing conversation around the content of the Finance Bill 2024, and listening keenly to the people of Kenya, who have said loudly that they want nothing to do with this Finance Bill 2024, I concede, and therefore I will not sign the 2024 Finance Bill, and it shall subsequently be withdrawn," Ruto told a news conference at the State House in Nairobi.

"People lost their lives and it is very unfortunate. I wish that would not have happened," he added.

The chaos had led the government to deploy the military to deal with the law and order situation. A high court, however, had canceled the order for the deployment, saying it was unconstitutional.

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