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Fuel tax hike: Kenyan police fire teargas to stop protesters

Kenyan police fired teargas on Friday to disperse protesters marching against a new finance law that has doubled the fuel tax and introduced a housing levy for employees.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has called the protests to oppose tax increases that were imposed despite a court-ordered suspension, and came at a time when many people were already struggling with persistently high prices of basic commodities such as maize flour.

Footage aired on the privately owned television channel KTN News showed motorists scrambling to turn around on a tear-gas drenched street in the port city of Mombasa, as protesters fled on foot.

More teargas was fired in the capital Nairobi, the private Daily Nation newspaper reported, as police sought to break up protesters who had barricaded sections of two roads.

Shops and businesses were still open in the main central business district.

President William Ruto’s government said the tax hikes, expected to raise an extra 200 billion shillings ($1.42 billion) a year, were needed to help deal with growing debt repayments, and fund job-creating initiatives.

Police have allowed the opposition’s main rally to go ahead, but warned against the destruction of properties and businesses.

National police spokeswoman Resila Onyango did not respond immediately when Reuters sought further comment.

Opposition leader Odinga and other leaders in his Azimio coalition are scheduled to address a rally in the historic Kamukunji ground in the capital the scene of intense clashes between the police and agitators for multi-party democracy 33 years ago to the day.

The High Court suspended the implementation of the finance law last week but the government raised retail prices of petrol anyway, forcing the opposition senator who lodged the case to seek the jailing of the head of the energy sector regulator for contempt.

The court will rule on the contempt application on Monday and give further directions on the main suit on the same day. (Reuters/NAN)

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Written by Tom Chiahemen

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