Tax Hike Protests: I Have No Blood On My Hands – Kenyan President

HUNDREDS of people marched in the Kenyan capital Nairobi Sunday, to honour those who died in anti-government demonstrations this week, as President William Ruto insisted that “I have no blood on my hands.”

Rights groups say at least 30 people died in protests driven by a government drive to substantially raise taxes in the East African country.

Following the violence, Ruto announced an about-turn earlier this week, saying he would “listen to the people” and would not sign the finance bill into law.

Ruto, in a television interview, put the toll at 19 — the first figures issued by the authorities — and promised a full investigation into the deaths.

Largely peaceful rallies turned violent last Tuesday when lawmakers passed the deeply unpopular tax increases following pressure from the International Monetary Fund.

Police opened fire on protesters who stormed the parliament complex and a fire broke out.

“I have no blood on my hands,” said Ruto during the interview with Kenyan TV.

Referring to the deaths, he said: “It is very unfortunate. As a democracy that should not be part of our conversation…”

“There will be an investigation on how these 19 Kenyans died,” he added. “There will be an explanation for each and every one of them.

“The police have done the best they could,” said Ruto.

“If there have been any excesses, we have mechanisms to make sure that those excesses are dealt with.”

And he added: “Any killer cop who went beyond what is provided for in the law will have action taken against them.”

But he warned that those who had attacked parliament would also be held accountable.

“Criminals infiltrated and caused mayhem,” he said. “Those who attacked Parliament and the judiciary are on CCTV.”

“Many of them are on the run but we will catch them,” he added.

Going back over his decision to scrap the finance bill at the last moment, Ruto said: “It means that we have gone back almost two years” and meant the government would have to borrow heavily.

But he acknowledged: “We should have communicated better.

“If I am given a chance to explain to the people of Kenya what the finance bill was all about and what it would have done for them, then every Kenyan would agree with me.”

The clashes were unprecedented in the history of the country since its independence from Britain in 1963.

On Saturday, a few hundred people gathered in Uhuru Park in central Nairobi following an appeal on media.

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