Indonesian police probe arson accusation in death of reporter

NAIROBI: Riot police patrolled Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, on Tuesday morning as youth activists called for more protests following last week’s deadly clashes.
Members of the protest movement, which has no official leader and is organized largely through social media, have rejected President William Ruto’s calls for dialogue, even as he backed down on proposed tax hikes.
Angered by last week’s deaths – at least 39 according to the government-funded Kenya National Commission for Human Rights (KNHCR) – many are now calling for Ruto’s resignation.
“We are determined to call for the president’s resignation,” said Ojango Omondi, an activist in Nairobi. “We hope for a peaceful protest and minimal casualties, if any.”
The protests, which started as an outburst of online anger over a nearly $2.7 billion tax hike in the finance bill, have grown into a nationwide movement against corruption and misgovernance and become the worst crisis of Ruto’s nearly two-year presidency.
It is caught between the competing demands of creditors, such as the International Monetary Fund, urging the heavily indebted government to reduce the deficit, and the population, which is struggling due to rising living costs.
Ruto has directed the Treasury to find ways to cut spending to cover the budget shortfall due to the withdrawal of the bill and also said more borrowing would be needed.
The protests, which began in mid-June, were mostly peaceful until last Tuesday, when police clashed with protesters. Some protesters briefly stormed the parliament and set part of it on fire. The police opened fire, many people lost their lives, the human rights organization said.
The KNHCR said on Monday that 39 people had been killed and 361 injured since the first demonstration on June 18.
Ruto defended the police’s actions, saying they did their best under difficult circumstances. He blamed the violence on “criminals” who he said had hijacked the protests.
“It’s a good day to choose patriotism. A beautiful day to choose peace, order and the sanctity of our nation,” State House communications director Gerald Bitok wrote on Tuesday morning at X, adding in Swahili, “Violence is not patriotism.”
It was not clear to what extent people would respond to the new calls for protests. There were no reports of early morning protests.
In downtown Nairobi, the site of the fiercest protests last week, shops are open as usual. Police set up roadblocks to the president’s official residence.
“I think it’s not going to be a march (protest) because maybe people are afraid because some people have been shot,” said Kennedy Otwal, who was walking downtown.

Leave a Comment