Kenya Kwanzaa legislators forced to defend

A fierce political battle has erupted in Kenya over the controversial Finance Bill 2024, with leaders affiliated with President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanzaa Coalition condemning calls to oust members of parliament who support the bill.

The legislative tussle comes amid a wave of youth-led protests, driven by dissatisfaction with proposed tax measures.

Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot has strongly criticised opposition legislators from the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition for opposing the bill. Speaking in Kericho County, Cheruiyot urged lawmakers who voted in favour of the bill to remain firm and not succumb to any form of intimidation as the bill moves to the committee stage for amendments.

“The MPs who voted in favour of the Finance Bill will not allow any threat from anyone. You stood by the future of this country and ensured that our youth do not face the same debt struggles we are facing now. You are laying a strong foundation for a self-reliant nation,” Cheruiyot stressed.

Echoing Cheruiyot’s sentiments, Nandi Senator Samson Cherarki also spoke on the fallout from the National Assembly’s vote to refer the Finance Bill 2024 to the Committee of the Whole House.

Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot with Embu Governor Cecily Mbari at a previous event.

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Cheruiyot

He urged Opposition Leader Raila Odinga to unite his members in support of the bill, and expressed gratitude for President Ruto’s support to Odinga’s bid for the AU Commission.

“We are requesting Raila to show respect and gratitude. We need these taxes to fund important initiatives, including your campaign for the African Union,” Cherarki said.

The outspoken senator also accused the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition of funding the nationwide protests that took place on Tuesday and Thursday. However, reports indicate that these protests are neither organised nor funded by any political party.

Instead, a new generation of young Kenyan protesters have taken to the streets, forcing the government to reconsider some of its unpopular tax proposals. What began as outrage on TikTok over the finance bill has grown into a widespread uprising unconnected with traditional political structures.

Called “Occupy Parliament,” these protests are coordinated and mobilized on social media, which distinguishes them from demonstrations typically led by politicians. Organizers encouraged participants to wear black, yet many came in torn jeans and stylish hairstyles, reflecting their vibrant personalities.

These young protesters, often referred to as Generation Z – those born in the late 1990s and early 2000s – have come out in large numbers, ensuring their discontent goes beyond hashtags and memes. The protests mark a significant shift in the country’s political landscape, with young Kenyans taking an active stance against policies they see as detrimental to their future.

The Finance Bill 2024, which contains a number of tax measures, has been the center of controversies. Supporters argue that it is necessary to reduce the national debt and finance important government projects. However, opponents see it as a burden on an already struggling public.

Tensions remain high on Tuesday as the bill moves to the committee stage, where recommended amendments will be considered and voted on. The outcome will not only determine the fate of the bill, but also test the strength and influence of the emerging youth movement.

Nandi Senator Samson Cheragei at the Parliament House.

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Samson Cheragei



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