Kenyan Protesters Breach Parliament Building Amid Tax Hike Protests

The Kenyan government, a US ally, recently increased tax rates at the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) request.

Hundreds of Kenyans protesting the government’s tax hike plan stormed the parliament building in Nairobi, forcing some lawmakers to hide in the basement. At least five people died in clashes with police, who were reinforced by the Kenyan military.

The riot on Tuesday began after the legislature approved the government’s 2024 Finance Bill, which aims to generate $2.7 billion in revenue to meet IMF demands, by a vote of 195-106.

President William Ruto called the protests “treasonous events” and vowed to crack down on the “criminals” who “hijacked” the demonstrations and turned them violent.

“Today’s attack led to loss of life, property damage, and disrespect for our institutions,” Ruto said, calling it a “critical turning point” in how the government responds to national security threats.

Videos circulating on social media show the governor’s office in Nairobi ablaze, and protesters smashing flags and furniture inside the parliament, attempting to break into the Senate chamber.

According to the BBC, “hundreds” of lawmakers were trapped inside the building and took refuge in the basement.

At least ten people died in clashes with the police, while another 40 were admitted to local hospitals for treatment, according to local media.

Defense Minister Aden Duale announced the mobilization of the armed forces to support the police due to a “security emergency caused by ongoing violent protests in various parts” of the country, “resulting in destruction and breaching of critical infrastructure.”

Earlier in the day, Duale met with British High Commissioner to Kenya Neil Wigan and his military adviser, Brigadier Oliver Bryant. They discussed “our strong bilateral relations, focusing on defense collaboration in areas such as counter-terrorism, anti-piracy, and climate change,” the Kenyan minister said.

On Monday, the US announced its designation of Kenya as a “major non-NATO ally,” granting Nairobi “military and economic privileges,” according to the State Department.

Meanwhile, a contingent of 400 Kenyan police officers was sent to Haiti as part of a US-backed operation to “restore order” on the Caribbean island.