Kenya’s Ruto Vows ‘Full’ Response After Deadly Anti-Tax Protests

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Kenyan President William Ruto vowed to take a tough line against “violence and anarchy” on Tuesday after protests against his government’s proposed tax hikes turned deadly and demonstrators ransacked parliament.

Mainly youth-led demonstrations had been largely peaceful as they grew over the past week but chaos erupted in Nairobi on Tuesday, with crowds throwing stones at police, pushing past barricades, and entering the grounds of parliament.

The military has been deployed to support police who fired tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, and — according to a rights group — live ammunition against protesters.

Five people were shot dead and 31 wounded, several NGOs including Amnesty Kenya reported in a joint statement.

“We shall provide a full, effective, and expeditious response to today’s treasonous events,” Ruto told a press briefing in Nairobi, saying the demonstrations were “hijacked by dangerous people”.

It was inconceivable that “criminals pretending to be peaceful protesters can reign terror against the people, their elected representatives, and the institutions established under our constitution and expect to go scot-free,” Ruto added.

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“I hereby put on notice the planners, financiers, orchestrators, abetters of violence and anarchy.”

The United States appealed for calm and 13 Western nations — including Canada, Germany, and Britain — said they were “especially shocked” by the scenes outside parliament.

UN chief Antonio Guterres was “deeply concerned” by the violence and “saddened” by the reported deaths and injuries, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

African Union Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat also expressed his “deep concern” and called on the country to refrain from further violence.

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