WATCH Protesters storm Kenyan parliament

The US ally’s government recently hiked tax rates at the IMF’s request

Hundreds of Kenyans protesting the government’s plan to raise taxes have broken into the parliament building in Nairobi, as some lawmakers cowered in the basement. At least five people were killed in clashes with police who were reinforced by the Kenyan military.

Tuesday’s riot began after the legislature voted 195-106 to pass the government’s 2024 Finance Bill, which envisioned tax increases to drum up $2.7 billion in revenue due to demands of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

President William Ruto denounced the protests as “treasonous events” and vowed to crack down on “criminals” who “hijacked” the demonstrations and turned them into “violence and anarchy.” 

“Today’s attack resulted in the loss of lives, destruction of property and a lack of respect for the institutions,” Ruto said, calling it “a critical turning point in how we respond to such threats on national security.”

Videos making rounds on social media show the governor’s office in Nairobi in flames, as well as a group of demonstrators smashing flags and furniture inside the parliament and attempting to break down the doors of the Senate chamber.

Footage of protestors storming Kenya’s parliament

— Dwayne Wong (@DOmowale) June 25, 2024

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

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

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

Earlier in the day, Duale hosted the 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,” according to the Kenyan minister.

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

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

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