Some of the Kenyan protesters
Some of the Kenyan protesters

Kenya updates: Calls for new protests as death roll rises

At least 22 people were killed during anti-government protests in Kenya on Tuesday, according to a doctors' association. Protesters have called for peaceful protests to continue on Thursday.


Kenya's state-backed rights body announced the death of 22 protesters killed during Tuesday's rallies, while the Kenya Medical Association put the death toll at 23.

Some 30 others were being treated for bullet wounds sustained during the nationwide protests, the association said.

Roseline Odede, chairwoman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, said that 19 people had died in the capital, Nairobi, where police opened fire at demonstrators who stormed parliament. 

She vowed the commission would launch an inquiry, describing the toll as "the largest number of deaths [in] a single day protest."

'I wish I was born in another country'
Reuters news agency has been out and about on the streets of Nairobi over the last 24 hours, speaking to Kenya's largely Millennial and Generation Z protesters.

"It's the people against the government," added Ronnie Baron, a 30-year-old English literature teacher.

"It's going to unite the youth and the old like never before," said 29-year-old John Aron.

Kenya may be the economic powerhouse of East Africa, but Nairobi is under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to slash foreign debt, which currently stands at roughly 10 trillion shillings ($77.7bn), around 70 percent of GDP, and boost state revenues, hence the government's proposed tax increases.

But with a third of Kenya's 52-million population living in poverty, many people are already struggling with the increasing cost of living and are frustrated at a political system which they feel offers them few opportunities.

"Our parents failed us, they voted along tribal lines," 26-year-old Derick Kolito told Reuters, saying he was unable to find a job despite having a master's degree in accounting. "I am the son of peasants. You must have a godfather to get a job," he said. "I wish I was born in another country."

For others, government attempts to engage with protest leaders are evidence in itself that the political class has failed to understand the issues.

"Our leaders are saying they are going to sit down with the youth and talk to us," protester Mitchell Mwamodo said. "But we don't have a leader. I am not trying to have a conversation. We are not ready to back down."

"They are just trying to find out which hand to shake and which hand to cut off," said 37-year-old Mary Ngigi. "But we don't have any leaders."

'See you on Thursday': Kenyans call for peaceful protests

Kenyan protesters have called on fellow citizens to take to the streets again on Thursday in memory of "our fallen people," according to one prominent organizer.

"You cannot kill all of us," wrote the journalist and activist Hanifa Adan on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday morning. "Tomorrow we march peacefully again."

Meanwhile, a new hashtag was trending across Kenyan social media: "#tupatanethursday," a mix of Swahili and English meaning "see you on Thursday."

In her post, Adan said "all sovereign power belong to the people of Kenya" and called on demonstrators to wear white.

'Deaths, mayhem' and 'pandemonium' — Kenyan media on Wednesday morning

Kenyans woke up on Wednesday morning with the smell of tear gas still lingering across the capital, Nairobi, after some of the most violent protests seen in decades.

The front page of the Standard newspaper spoke of "deaths" and "mayhem," while the Daily Nation described "pandemonium." It said "the foundations of the country have been shaken to the core" but called for dialogue, saying: "Let's reason together."


The Nation documented protests in at least 35 of Kenya's 47 counties, from big cities to rural areas, including President Ruto's hometown of Eldoret in his ethnic Kalenjin heartland, demonstrating the extent to which protests have cut across Kenya's geographic, social and ethnic landscape.

On Tuesday night, local broadcaster Citizen TV hosted a discussion entitled "A nation on the brink," which featured panelists calling on the government to engage with protesters.

However, after some limited back-pedaling on some proposed tax increases last week, Ruto does not appear inclined to offer further concessions.

In a briefing late on Tuesday night, he likened some demonstrators to "criminals" and warned that he would crack down on "violence and anarchy."


On Wednesday morning, a policeman guarding broken barricades told the AFP news agency that Tuesday's events were "madness" and said, "We hope it will be calm today."

Police fire blanks in Nairobi suburb

Kenyan police have said they fired over 700 blank rounds to disperse protesters in the Nairobi suburb of Githurai overnight into Wednesday morning.

Videos of gunfire piercing the night air were shared online and reported by local media.

Meanwhile, Kenyan military personnel were deployed in the capital's central business district to support police after President William Ruto vowed in an evening address to quash unrest "at whatever cost."


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