By Charlie Kimber
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2911

Kenya’s regime retreats but uprising continues

Protesters don't trust the president when he speaks of concessions
Issue 2911
Thousands in Kenya have taken to the streets to protest the finance bill (Photo: Twitter/@Honeyfarsafi)

Thousands in Kenya have taken to the streets to protest the finance bill (Photo: Twitter/@Honeyfarsafi)

Protesters gathered again on the streets of Nairobi, Kenya, on Thursday morning despite a concession by the country’s rulers.

The day before president William Ruto announced that he would not sign a finance bill which had originally tried to tax items ranging bread to sanitary pads. It has sparked huge protests across Kenya. 

Nobody involved in the furious demonstrations trusts Ruto. They know that if the president doesn’t sign the bill it automatically becomes law within three weeks anyway.

The only way that it can be retracted is if parliament overturns the bill. That’s what Ruto said his MPs had agreed to do.

But parliament has gone into recess now and it’s expected to be in recess until late July, which would pass that 21-day limit.

Protesters now want Ruto’s resignation.

His concessions came after demonstrators in Nairobi stormed parliament on Tuesday and set fire to one of its buildings. They also set fire to the city governor’s office. Police shot dead at least 14 protesters.

A demonstrator on the streets of Nairobi told Socialist Worker on Tuesday afternoon, “We are the flames burning up the country. We cannot stand still while we are robbed and made poor.

“This movement will not stop until we have won. They can kill us but they can’t beat down our movement.”

Sophia, another protester in Nairobi, spoke to Socialist Worker on Tuesday evening. 

“We faced tear gas all day. We occupied parliament, but there are so many casualties. There were a lot of executions. People died and people are injured,” she said.

A post by socialist journalist Mozey Toric on social media showed protesters carrying the ceremonial mace from the parliament chamber.

“As per now power belongs to people in Kenya since protesters have taken the mace out of parliament. The Mace is the symbol of power of the legislature,” wrote Toric.

Video here at:

Another protester said, “This is beyond a finance bill. This is our war against a tyrannical regime.”

Ruto, who stands for Kenyan ruling class interests, is under pressure from the International Monetary Fund to ram through cuts and tax rises.

People poured on to the streets last week, holding placards with slogans such as “Kenya is not the IMF’s lab rat”.

The police responded brutally with tear gas and live rounds, according to the Kenyan Human Rights Commission.

It also said security forces had “abducted” prominent critics of the tax proposals, seizing many from their homes.

When he won elections in August 2022, Ruto promised “bottom-up” economics. He boasted that he would stand for the “hustlers”—the poor majority— against the “dynasties”—the wealthy and politically influential elite that have ruled since independence 60 years ago.

Kenya’s rulers are the loyal servants of the imperialism of the United States. They have offered police to quell the opposition in Haiti in the Caribbean and stop refugees heading to North America.

An initial group of 400 Kenyan police officers arrived in Haiti this week. They are the first to deploy of an expected 2,500-member force of international cops and soldiers from eight countries.

As a reward, United States president Joe Biden dubbed Kenya a major non-Nato ally, the first in sub-Saharan Africa. This will allow its military to buy US weapons and anti-riot technology.

The demonstrations across Kenya this month have seen a new generation of protesters on the streets in a country of 56 million people.

Ruto’s claim he would withdraw the bill shows the pressure he is under. But it’s right for protesters to stay on the streets. The key issue will be if the revolt spreads to workers who can bring the country to a halt as workers should pose an alternative to the IMF, imperialism, Ruto and sham democracy.

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