Ruto's belated condolences and conflicting numbers of protesters' death toll

William Ruto

President William Ruto addresses the media at State House, Nairobi on June 26, 2024.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • President Ruto said six people lost their lives and one patient was in the intensive care unit.
  • There are conflicting reports on the number of those who lost their lives during the protests.

President William Ruto has condoled with the families of protesters who lost their lives during the anti-Finance Bill protests that rocked the country on Tuesday.

Speaking on Wednesday evening at State House, Nairobi, President Ruto's took a conciliatory tone.

This was in sharp contrast to Tuesday night when the Head of State termed the protesters who stormed Parliament Buildings as organised criminals.

“I send condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones in this unfortunate manner,” President Ruto said.

President Ruto said six people lost their lives and one patient was in the intensive care unit. He put the number of the injured at 214, with 95 having been treated and discharged or were in hospital. 

“On those who’ve lost their lives, there will be a mechanism on how they will be accounted for," President Ruto said, without mentioning how the accounting will be done, or when. 

However, there are conflicting reports on the death toll with the Kenyatta National Hospital, hospitals under Nairobi City County, and activists putting the number at 53. 

Police Reforms Working Group (PRWG), a conglomeration of civil society groups, said at least 30 deaths were recorded in Githurai area in the aftermath of the violent protests in Nairobi. 

The other 23 deaths, which the group said were caused by police shootings, occurred countrywide. 

This even as KNH continued to report an influx of approximately 165 patients needing treatment as a result of injuries sustained from the protests.

Other hospitals across the country, like KNH, were still receiving more patients.

Media reports also indicate that at least eight people died on Tuesday when police opened fire on protesters who stormed the National Assembly.

When he spoke from State House on Tuesday night, President Ruto blamed the violence on "organised criminals" terming the events as treasonous.

However, less than 24 hours later he referred to those who took part in the protests as “young people of our nation – our sons and daughters”.

The President acknowledged that the country witnessed widespread expression of dissatisfaction with the bill as passed, “regrettably resulting in the loss of life, destruction of property and desecration of constitutional institutions”.

President Ruto also said he had reflected on the “continuing conversation around the content of the Finance Bill, 2024 and that he chosen not to assent to the bill.

The demonstrations, which erupted across 35 counties on Tuesday, started off peacefully but ended in violence, with unprecedented events that saw protesters breaching tight security and storming Parliament Buildings.

President Ruto appears to have ceded to pressure from Kenyans after the deadly protests to de-escalate the brewing tension in the country.

What began a week ago as an online outpouring of anger by young, tech-savvy Kenyans at proposed taxes on bread and diapers, built up to a wave of nationwide rage and unrestrained chaos that resulted in death and widespread loss of property.