21-Year-Old Man Dies After Tear Gas Incident in Kenya Protests

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21-Year-Old Man Dies After Tear Gas Incident in Kenya Protests

A 21-year-old man has died after being struck by a tear gas canister during protests against tax hikes in Kenya this week, a human rights official and the victim’s relative confirmed on Saturday. This marks the second fatality stemming from the youth-led demonstrations against President William Ruto’s economic policies.

The protests, predominantly driven by Gen-Z Kenyans and amplified through livestreams, reflect widespread discontent over increasing living costs. Thursday’s demonstrations in the capital city of Nairobi were mostly peaceful, but law enforcement resorted to firing tear gas and using water cannons to disperse crowds near the parliament.

21-year-old Man Dies After Tear Gas Incident In Kenya Protests

According to the Kenya Human Rights Commission, Evans Kiratu was hit by a tear gas canister during the Thursday protests. “He was rushed to the hospital around 18:00 (15:00 GMT) on Thursday…and died there,” stated Ernest Cornel, a spokesman for the commission. “It is tragic that a young person can lose his life simply for agitating against the high cost of living.”

The protests, which began in Nairobi on Tuesday, quickly spread across the nation, with demonstrators calling for a national strike on June 25. Kiratu’s death follows another fatality reported on Friday, where a police watchdog is investigating the alleged shooting of a 29-year-old man by officers in Nairobi after Thursday’s demonstrations.

Amnesty International Kenya and other organizations reported that at least 200 people were injured in Nairobi following Thursday’s protests, which saw thousands taking to the streets across the country.

**Mounting Pressure

In response to the smaller-scale demonstrations earlier in the week, the financially strained government agreed to reverse several tax hikes outlined in a new bill. However, President Ruto’s administration still plans to implement some tax increases, arguing they are crucial for reducing external borrowing and bolstering the national budget.

Despite the government’s decision to scrap levies on essential items like bread, car ownership, and financial services, the treasury warned of a potential 200-billion-shilling ($1.5-billion) shortfall. The original tax plan aimed to generate 346.7 billion shillings ($2.7 billion), reducing the budget deficit from 5.7 percent to 3.3 percent of GDP.

To offset the budget gap, the government is now considering increasing fuel prices and export taxes, a move critics argue will further burden a population already struggling with high inflation.

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