Ruto Must Go!: Kenyan Youths Demand More Than Just Tax Relief


“Ruto must go” echoes through Kenya as youth protest tax hikes and demand President Ruto’s resignation, despite his withdrawal of the finance bill amid heavy security and clashes in Nairobi.

In the heart of Nairobi, a storm brews as the youth of Kenya rise to protest against a government that seems deaf to their cries. The capital’s streets, usually buzzing with life, are now battlegrounds where the future of a nation is contested. Kenyan police, in an all-too-familiar scene, have resorted to firing tear gas to disperse protesters mourning those killed in previous demonstrations. With heavy security deployment and blockades around key city buildings, the tension is palpable.

Two days prior, more than 20 lives were lost in clashes against the controversial finance bill, sparking outrage and culminating in part of the parliament being set ablaze. President William Ruto, facing immense pressure, conceded to withdraw the bill containing the unpopular tax proposals. Yet, this concession is not enough for a populace demanding more than just economic relief—they want Ruto gone.

The state’s heavy-handed tactics have not gone unnoticed. Reports of state agents abducting hundreds linked to the protests have surfaced, with the Kenya National Commission stepping in to help secure the release of over 300 “illegally detained” individuals. The crackdown has only fueled the fire of dissent, with demonstrators vowing to reconvene in Nairobi’s city center to honor those who lost their lives and to continue their call for the president’s resignation.

In Mombasa, the scene is equally charged. Crowds chant “Ruto must go,” leading to business closures amid looting and stone-throwing. The president’s hometown of Eldoret has seen calmer scenes following violent clashes earlier in the week, while western towns like Migori and Kisumu continue to witness confrontations between protesters and police.

Auma Obama, the half-sister of former US President Barack Obama, adds her voice to the chorus of discontent. Speaking to the BBC, she emphasized the persistent grievances of the youth. Despite President Ruto’s promises of dialogue, she notes that no meaningful conversation has taken place.

“The grievances are not over. It is way beyond the finance bill now, so a conversation has to happen. There has to be a dialogue. I hope that will happen. We do not want more bloodshed,”

Ms. Obama stated.

Ruto, who ascended to the presidency in 2022 on the promise of championing the “hustler”—the everyday Kenyan struggling to make ends meet—now finds himself the target of widespread ire. His administration’s tax hikes, including levies on essential items like bread and cooking oil, have triggered mass protests, leaving many feeling betrayed.

While the government has scrapped some taxes, the demands for the bill’s complete withdrawal persisted until Ruto finally relented, stating, “the people have spoken.” Despite this, he defended the bill as a tough but necessary measure to stabilize the economy and reduce Kenya’s crippling debt, which consumes 61 cents of every tax dollar.

Ruto’s new strategy involves a stringent public austerity program, including cuts to his own office’s spending. Yet, the question remains whether these measures will be enough to quell the unrest or if the youth’s call for Ruto’s resignation will echo louder in the streets.

As Kenya grapples with its future, the voices of its youth ring clear: it’s not just about taxes; it’s about a government that listens and a leader who must go.


Leave a Reply