Kenya dispatch: withdrawn Finance Bill 2024 leaves loss, mourning and injustice in its wake after a week of protests Dispatches
© JURIST // Kirubi Maina
Kenya dispatch: withdrawn Finance Bill 2024 leaves loss, mourning and injustice in its wake after a week of protests

David Odero is a law student at Kisii University and a special correspondent for JURIST. He filed this dispatch from Nairobi.   

After several nights of terror, abductions, running battles and the deaths of protesters in the hands of rogue police, President William Ruto has finally decided to withdraw the controversial Finance Bill and send it back to parliament, throwing the MPs allied to him, who voted in favour of the bill, under the bus. This decision was preceded by a Presidential Memorandum of Referral to the Speaker of the National Assembly with a recommendation for deleting all the clauses thereof on Wednesday 26, June 2024.

The deputy president, through a press briefing later that evening, blamed the recent abductions and escalation of the demonstrations on the Director General of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) Noordin Haji. He claimed that the NIS failed in its role to adequately inform the president of the magnitude of the nationwide dissent against the Finance Bill 2024.

This news was received differently by the people, with some activists calling off the march to the Statehouse planned for Thursday 27, June 2024. The activists were later termed as sellouts as a faction of the youth were not relenting as they were enraged by the recent killing of peaceful protesters in the  Githurai district of Nairobi. Kenyans still took to the streets despite the order by the government to deploy the Kenya Defence Forces to contain the demonstrations.

The protest on Thursday began peacefully as security beefed up with armoured personnel escorted the protesters in the Central Business District (CBD). However, in other parts of the country as well as the capital, running battles between the police and protesters began with several people being arrested and dozens admitted with gunshot wounds. News that broke the spirits of Kenyans was the shooting of a twelve-year-old child in Ongata Rongai eight times on the back, who died on the spot. This was as a result of a protest that turned violent with goons looting quite a number of supermarkets. The altercations were preceded with police officers shooting aimlessly with 56 rogue protesters reported to have been arrested.

The speaker of the National Assembly has issued a notification to the members of the National Assembly to commence expeditious consideration of the president’s memorandum, its reservation and recommendation and report to the House at the next regular sitting upon its resumption. The bill will be lost upon the approval of the president’s reservation and recommendations by the National Assembly. However, if any member intends to negate the President’s veto or revive any of the clauses of the Bill, he must marshal the votes of at least two-thirds of the Members of the National Assembly, being 233 members. Additionally, inasmuch as the parliament is going into recces, the bill will not become law with effluxion of time as it had already been referred for recommendation.

A High Court order permitting the deployment of the Kenya Defence Forces to support the National Police has been followed up by temporary orders stopping security agencies from using water cannons and teargas against protesters.

The question that now resurfaces is whether the people who lost their lives will receive any justice? The brutality of the police has always gone unpunished with the arbitrary killer cops never being brought to books. Investigations ordered by the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) never serve the interest of justice as they come out to be ceremonial. The fire that burned inside so bright has faded, spirits have been broken and the country is in mourning. The president did not have to let matters escalate to this point; the atrocities and agony that the people of Kenya have had to go through will forever be embedded in their hearts, lest we forget.