Kenya's anti-tax protesters enter Parliament, several shot 'dead'

The moment protesters entered Parliament

The Kenyan Parliament on Tuesday came under siege after a group of anti-tax demonstrators gained access to the House moments after lawmakers passed President Ruto's highly contested Finance Bill 2024.

The protesters, who had been battling police and chanting anti-government slogans in the streets of Nairobi since morning, gained access to the highly fortified Parliament Buildings via Uhuru Highway.

The youth gained access after overwhelming the anti-protest police, who started seeking reinforcement.

Police opened fire, killing at least one and injuring several, according to various witness accounts.

"Police have shot four protesters, as witnessed by KHRC, killing one. We strongly condemn the police killing. Such actions are unacceptable and constitute a grave violation of human rights. Justice and accountability are imperative. We will vigorously push for police accountability," the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), a human rights watchdog, tweeted after the clash.

Before the entry to Parliament, reports indicated that at least 10 protesters had been shot and injured. 

Moments after the shooting, a section of Parliament was set on fire, sparking panic.

Members of Parliament, who were still transacting business, fled through underground tunnels as the anti-tax protesters, who had taken over cafeteria, threatened to enter debate chambers.

Police could be seen using live bullets in an attempt to prevent the youth from accessing the building, with protesters approaching from both City Hall Way and Uhuru Highway.

Footage from the precincts where legislators debate national matters and make laws shows that part of the Senate was on fire with teargas filling every corner of the hallowed grounds.

The Tuesday deadly confrontation was the culmination of Occupy Parliament protests across the country as the mostly youthful protesters pulled all stops to have the bill dropped.

Hours before this dramatic display of boldness unseen before, thousands of youth demonstrated along several avenues and streets in the rather hazy Nairobi streets where businesses remained closed since morning.

By midmorning, police and the youth were engaged in their typical cat-and-mouse games, with the uniformed officers firing teargas canisters and water cannons at the spirited demonstrators.

However, when news spread that Parliament had adopted the bill, more and more protestors streamed into town.

This unrest came as youth in at least 30 counties took to the streets to protest against the finance bill.

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The Nairobi deadly chaos rekindled Burkina Faso’s 2014 dark memories.

In that year, angry protesters gained access to Parliament in the capital Ouagadougou and set it on fire in their strong opposition to plans that sought to allow President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year rule.

MPs were forced to suspend a vote on changing the Constitution to allow Compaore to stand for re-election in 2015.  

At least five people were killed in the protest after the military fired live bullets when protestors stormed Parliament.

Reports by Winnie Onyando, Kevin Cheruiyot, Harry Misiko and Steve Otieno.