In what would be considered a huge win for protesting Kenyans, President William Ruto has declined to sign the controversial 2024 Finance Bill after it passed committee change at Parliament on Tuesday. The tax bill was opposed by citizens, opposition lawmakers, and civil society.

Ruto returned the bill to the Parliament on Wednesday for further consideration. This means the President has effectively vetoed the bill, and the Parliament will now decide whether to amend the bill to address the President’s concerns, abandon it, or attempt to pass it again.

It is a huge concession after Ruto denounced Tuesday’s protests which left eight people dead, describing the events as “treasonous.” The president claimed the protests were “hijacked by dangerous people” and called upon security organs to restore calm.

The move could be seen as an attempt to de-escalate tension, as Kenyans plan to demonstrate on Thursday across the country—the same date Ruto was expected to sign the bill.

The general assumption was that Ruto would sign the bill, considering the MPs affiliated with his ruling coalition overwhelmingly supported it. A total of 195 MPs voted in favour of the bill, and 104 MPs—mostly from the opposition—voted against it.

It remains unclear when the discussion on the bill, likely to address some of the issues brought forth by Kenyans—including taxes on essential commodities such as edible oil and sanitary pads—will begin.

Parliament, which met earlier on Wednesday to approve the deployment of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) to assist police in quelling anti-Finance Bill demonstrations, will be out of session next month.

*This is a developing story.

Ganiu Oloruntade Reporter, TechCabal
Kenn Abuya Senior Reporter

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