Anti-tax protests: Uhuru tells Ruto, leaders to listen to the people

Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the public attending a church service at AIC Church Pipeline, Nairobi on April 3, 2022.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta has told President William Ruto and other leaders to listen to the people in the wake of violent anti-tax protests witnessed across the country on Tuesday.

In a statement that followed the passage of the contentious Finance Bill 2024, Mr Kenyatta said “there is nothing cast in stone that cannot be changed.”

Coming after President Ruto termed the protests as “treasonous,” Mr Kenyatta said he was saddened by the loss of lives occasioned by the current situation prevailing in the country.

He emphasized that it is the right of every Kenyan to protest as determined by the constitution promulgated in 2010.

“It is also the duty of leaders to listen to those they lead. At this trying time for our Country, I want to remind all leaders that they were elected by the people.

“Listening to the people is not a choice but a mandate enshrined in the principles of our constitution and in the very basis and philosophy of democracy,” the former Head of State said.

Leaders, he noted, must know that power and authority they have is donated to them by the people.

“I therefore call for calm and for the leadership to show restraint and do the right thing by listening to the people and not be antagonistic to them,” he said barely a few hours after MPs, largely from the ruling Kenya Kwanza camp passed the contentious Finance Bill 2024.

The former president observed that violence on either side is not the answer to the current situation.

“As your former president, I have felt the weight and the difficulty of leading Kenya.

I, therefore, pray for wisdom and civility to be established and for peace and progress to belong to all of us as children of Kenya,” Mr Kenyatta said in his statement. 

He went on: “Dear Kenyans, I stand with you and I ask our leadership to embrace dialogue and speak to the people and not at the people.”

“I pray for peace and understanding on the part of each and every Kenyan and for all of us to remember that Kenya is bigger than one of us; God bless Kenya.”