Multiple gunshots, teargas, and a heavy police presence have been reported across the country as thousands of Kenyans protest the rising living costs despite the recently withdrawn 2024 Finance Bill. This marks the second week of protests in Kenya, with young Kenyans vowing to continue demonstrating every Tuesday and Thursday. They are also calling for President William Ruto’s resignation or an overhaul of his entire government.

Anti-riot police efforts have cleared Nairobi’s central business district, leaving it with few demonstrators; however, hundreds of protesters remain scattered in the suburbs. Movement into Nairobi is difficult as some access roads, including Waiyaki Way connecting Nairobi to western Kenya, have been closed. Public transport vehicles, which most Nairobians use to and from work, have also been removed from the streets. Those using personal vehicles have also reported thorough inspections from the police manning volatile areas within the city.  

There have also been reports of isolated looting incidents.

With matching t-shirts and wielding placards with #RutoMustGo slogans, protesters say high levels of corruption, poor governance, and police brutality are forcing them to take action. Thousands have protested in Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu, and smaller towns that haven’t traditionally seen protests, including Lamu and Karatina. 

Last week’s demonstrations turned deadly, with over 20 people shot dead across the country, the majority in Nairobi and its surroundings. While some injured protesters recover in hospitals, concerns are mounting over reports of abductions by plainclothes police. The government appears intent on identifying leaders behind the Gen Z protests, yet these demonstrations lack any apparent political backing, with opposition leaders remaining largely silent.

“We further condemn the ongoing arbitrary abductions of innocent Kenyans who were carted away in the most violent and inhuman manner, and held in communicado for days,” Edwin Sifuna, Nairobi’s senator said in a statement on Tuesday. 

Per Sifuna, over 50 illegal abductions by secret police have been conducted, and the whereabouts of these people remain unknown. “No one in government is ready to take responsibility, to render an apology or to make amends. The head of state himself has tried to distance his regime from these killings, injuries and abductions, in stead conjuring up theories when everyone can see blood on his hand.”

In a televised interview on Sunday, President William Ruto said that the police were doing their work and argued that the police were only dealing with criminal elements in protests masquerading as Gen Z protesters.  

“I care when there are issues in town and where criminals take advantage forcing the police to use live bullets is a matter of concern. In Ngong, the police were overpowered by criminals who used firearms against the people with the police forced to shoot the criminals who hijacked a police gun,” the president said. 

Get the best African tech newsletters in your inbox