Finance Bill: Protesters brave rains to #OccupyMombasa

Police lob tear gas to disperse protesters marching in the Mombasa CBD against Finance Bill, 2024

Anti-Finance Bill protests on Wednesday spread to the Coast, with Mombasa residents braving heavy rains to register their displeasure with President Ruto’s plan to finance his Sh3.9 trillion Budget.

The protests dubbed ‘OccupyMombasa’ were coordinated through social media platforms, including WhatsApp, X and TikTok, a day after similar demos in the capital Nairobi.

Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

Protesters match on Kenyatta Avenue in Mombasa on June 19, 2024. 

The mostly youthful demonstrators started gathering at the iconic elephant tusks sculptures along Moi Avenue at 8am and by 9am, a number of police officers had arrived to try and stop the demos.

An initial attempt by the protesters to picket was thwarted by the armed officers who said the protesters did have no a permit.

'Hakuna Maandamano!': Mombasa OCS calls for end Finance Bill demos, cites lack of notice

The police fired tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd.

“If you want to demonstrate you must bring a letter. I am the OCS and I have not received any letter from you, so there will be no demonstrations,” the OCS, Mr Peter Mugambi said.

However, Mr Mugambi later allowed the protests to continue peacefully, asking the demonstrators to do it in silence.

There was a heavy police presence on the streets of Mombasa amid the protests. 

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

The demonstrators engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with the officers for hours as the crowd attempted to access the Central Police Station.

Security was immediately beefed up to keep them at bay.

While walking along the streets of Mombasa, the protesters chanted slogans and waved placards against the Bill.

Mombasa youth protest over Finance Bill, 2024

They called for total rejection of the proposed finance law instead of the amendments that were announced by the government on Tuesday.

“Citizens are fed up, this is the time for the youth to rise up. They are not being sponsored by any activists, these are just young people who have decided that enough is enough,” Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) Rapid Response Officer Francis Auma said.

Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

Anti-Finance Bill protesters march in the streets of Mombasa on June 19, 2024. 

The demonstrators fired warning shots at members of Parliament to watch out, saying they would recall some of them for failing to champion the rights of the citizens.

“On the Finance Bill, we’ve said reject, not amend. I hope our MPs have heard us. We’re not going to wait until 2027, we will recall them. For those who do not know how to recall the MPs, we are the young people. We’ll teach you,” Mary Gachuri, a protester, said.

They stressed that they would continue to exercise their democratic rights without fear.

“We’ve had enough, so as Kenyans, we’re rising up to say enough is enough,” another protester said.