Concert in Kenya to pay tribute to those killed in tax hike protests

At least 39 people have been killed in demonstrations that started last month over planned tax hikes.

Kenya
Kenyan youths chant as they carry flags during a vigil in memory of protesters killed during deadly nationwide demonstrations [File: Simon Maina/AFP]

Hundreds of Kenyans have attended a concert in the capital Nairobi, chanting slogans and dancing to commemorate dozens of people killed in recent anti-government protests.

At least 39 people were killed in the demonstrations that started on June 18, as protesters pushed for planned tax hikes to be scrapped and the resignation of President William Ruto.

“The government is listening now because of the protests. So we are kind of happy, but there’s also a lot of sadness because so many people died for the government to listen,” said activist Boniface Mwangi, who attended the concert.

“So we’re also mourning, and we’re telling the families of those who lost their loved ones, ‘We’re with you, and we shall honour their sacrifice.'”

At the concert of local artists in Uhuru Park, a vast green space in the centre of Nairobi, young people held placards reading “RIP Comrades” and “We promise we’ll keep fighting”, while the crowd chanted “Ruto must go”. Others hammered crosses into the ground.

Sunday’s concert was held on Saba Saba Day, which marks the day in 1990 when similar protests began – demonstrations that eventually forced the government of the late leader Daniel arap Moi to return the country to multi-party politics.

Change for economic transformation?

The recent weeks-long protests in Kenya also saw police firing tear gas and water cannon at protesters. Kenyan police have said they arrested more than 270 people who they said were masquerading as protesters and suspected of going on a criminal rampage during antigovernment rallies in the country.

With pressure from the protestors mounting, President Ruto scrapped a finance bill that would have introduced a raft of new taxes which Kenyans say would have raised the already high cost of living.

On Friday, he also proposed new austerity measures including reducing the number of his advisers and the dissolution of 47 state corporations to help fill a budget gap caused by the withdrawal of the tax hikes, which were due to raise $2.7bn.

“I believe these changes will set our country on a trajectory towards economic transformation,” Ruto said.

Source: News Agencies