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Finance Bill: Kenyans to plan day 2 of protests in Nairobi

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A protester displays posters in a cloud of teargas during anti-finance bill demonstrations on Moi Avenue, Nairobi on June 18, 2024.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Thursday will likely be a day of running battles in Nairobi with the Occupy Parliament protestors confirming they will be back to the streets with the same motion - to lobby for the rejection of the Finance Bill 2024 by Members of Parliament.

Despite consuming the deadly teargas fumes, staying hungry for hours in police cells, and running up and down in Nairobi for the better part of Tuesday, the protestors have vowed to remain unbowed until the controversial Bill currently being debated in Parliament is shot down.

Though still in police custody by Wednesday evening after spending Tuesday night in the feared cells of Kamukunji Police Station and later on taken to Milimani Law Courts, Boniface Mwangi posted on his X timeline that the protests will continue.

The police presented Mr Mwangi alongside two other activists; Mathias Shipeta and Brian Ngatia, in court.

Boniface Mwangi

Human rights activist Boniface Mwangi addresses the media alongside other activists at the Milimani Law Court, Nairobi on June 19, 2024.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

“Kenyans are back again in the streets tomorrow. Wear that bandana. Wear that ribbon. Be colourful, and defiant,” he posted.

Within twenty minutes, this post had received over 850 retweets and even more likes.

Though Mr Mwangi was yoked in handcuffs and bundled in a police vehicle for the better part of yesterday, the Occupy Parliament protest, which is now morphing into a movement, spread its tentacles in Mombasa.

Youthful demonstrators braved heavy rains pounding the coastal city to take part in demonstrations dubbed Occupy Mombasa, against the Finance Bill 2024/2025. Just like in the capital, this protest was also coordinated via social media platforms.

As early as 8am, the protestors started gathering at the iconic elephant tusks sculptures along Moi Avenue. An hour later, police officers had arrived and immediately began scattering the crowd.

Initial attempts by the protestors to picket were thwarted by the police officers who said they had no permit and fired tear gas canisters to disperse them.

“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 on dropped his tough stance and allowed the protests to continue peacefully, asking the demonstrators to do it in silence.


Anti-Finance Bill protesters match along Kenyatta Avenue in Mombasa on June 19, 2024.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

This permission opened the chance for hours of cat and mouse games between the two sides with the demonstrators attempting to access Central Police Station.

Chanting slogans and waving placards against the Finance Bill, the protestors called for its total rejection and not the amendments being proposed by the MPs.

“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.

The demonstrators said they have decided to come out to the streets as Kenyan youth, and fired warning shots to Members of Parliament to watch out as they will also plan to recall some of them from office 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.

Still on Wednesday, there was some confusion at the Milimani Law Courts where the trio of Mr Mwangi, Shipeta and Ngatia had been taken for arraignment but the Office of the Director of Public 

Prosecutions declined to charge them saying there was no supporting evidence for the offences they were accused of.

This saw the three stay in the court’s precincts from 11am until past 4pm when the ODPP wrote to the police saying they could not be charged.


Police officers arrest a protestor along Kimathi Street on June 18, 2024 during the Occupy Parliament Protests against the Finance Bill 2024.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation

In a letter to the Inspector General, the Acting Assistant DPP, Dorcas Rugut acknowledged receipt of the files from the police that stated Mr Mwangi and four others had been arrested for the offence of creating disturbance in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace as well as taking part in an unlawful assembly.

However, Ms Rugut faulted the evidence given by the police saying it did not prove that the suspects acted in a manner of acting either brawled or fought or created disturbance.

“The evidence demonstrates that the suspects were carrying placards and it has not been demonstrated that in their mannerism created a breach of peace,” the letter stated.

The DPP also found the second listed offence below par because the charge sheet provided by the police did not articulate which offence the suspects intended to commit.

Despite being cleared of the charges, Mr Mwangi said that the police refused to set them free.

Twitter Influencer Hanifa Farsafi, who was arrested early Tuesday and released later on in the evening told the Nation on Wednesday evening that she will also be on the streets on Thursday.

She admitted that she had not known that her influence on social media was felt by her followers who actually showed up in the streets to protest and even followed her to the police station to demand her release.

“We will be on the streets again. I have not mobilised anyone but looking at social media, everyone will be back to the streets. All roads will be leading to Parliament, I will be there to ensure my voice is heard. I do not expect the police will arrest us as they did Tuesday,” she said.

The end goal, she said, is for the voice of the youth, the Gen Zs to be heard and for the parliamentarians to shoot down the Finance Bill 2024.

Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

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

Speaking from Milimani Law Courts where he had gone to show solidarity with Mr Mwangi and the two other suspects, Haki Afrika Executive Director, Hussein Khalid who was also arrested Tuesday, faulted the police for the arbitrary arrests and said Kenyans are now much aware of their civic rights and duties.

Gloria Kimani, LSK’s Lawyer-Police Liaison Convener, who led the deputation of advocates at Central Police Station to ensure the release of the arrested protestors Tuesday said that they will yet again return to the station and offer their legal services for those who will be arrested today, yet again.

She also said the strained working relationship between lawyers and the police in the country needs to be worked on so that a repeat of what happened earlier this week does not happen.

“I went there to negotiate but they (police) resorted to violence. Well, we also decided we will endure the teargas because it was our duty to secure the freedom of our clients.  We will do it again Thursday,” she said.