Ruto declines to sign controversial Finance Bill after deadly protests

Ruto declines to sign controversial tax bill after deadly protests
Kenya will now operate under the Finance Bill, 2023 after President William Ruto announced the withdrawal of the tax measures that triggered deadly protests.

Nairobi, Kenya | By Michael Wandati | Kenya’s President William Ruto has announced the withdrawal of a Finance Bill that included contentious tax increases. This decision comes in the wake of deadly protests, during which the Parliament building was set on fire on Tuesday 25, June 2024.

In his national address, President Ruto acknowledged the strong opposition from Kenyans, stating it was evident they “want nothing” to do with the bill.

“I concede,” he said, adding that he would not sign the Finance Bill, 2024 into law.

According to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNHRC), at least 22 people were killed during Tuesday’s protests.

President William Ruto has now committed to engaging in dialogue with the youth, who led the largest protests since his election in 2022.

Despite widespread opposition, the bill was passed by Parliament on Tuesday. Protesters stormed the Parliament building, causing extensive damage and setting parts of the complex on fire. The ceremonial mace, a symbol of legislative authority, was also stolen.

Initially, President Ruto responded with a strong stance, deploying the military to curb the “violence and anarchy.” However, on Wednesday 26, June 2024, he reversed his position, recognizing the significant public opposition to the bill.

In his second national address within 24 hours, President William Ruto provided a clear justification for the proposed tax increases. He explained that the legislation was aimed at addressing Kenya’s significant debt burden, which exceeds $80 billion and consumes more than half of the country’s annual tax revenues.


President Ruto emphasized that his government was making progress and aimed to “assert sovereignty” by repaying its debts. He also highlighted that the provisions of the bill were designed to benefit farmers, students, and teachers. However, he acknowledged that the public did not support the measures.

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“I also lead people,” he said, “and the people have spoken.”

The impact of President William Ruto’s decision to withdraw the controversial tax bill on plans to resume protests, largely organized through social media, remains uncertain. Social media chatter indicates that the protests may still proceed on Thursday.

Initially, the demonstrations aimed to pressure the president not to sign the bill. However, protester demands have escalated to calls for President Ruto’s resignation, encapsulated in the slogan “Ruto must go.”

President Ruto, who won the 2022 election against his main rival Raila Odinga with 50.5% of the vote to Odinga’s 48.8%, campaigned as a “hustler” challenging the entrenched political dynasties of the Odingas and Kenyattas. He promised a “bottom-up” economic approach to address high youth unemployment and improve the lives of the disadvantaged.