Sunday, July 21, 2024

Ruto scraps budget for first lady’s office, dissolves 40 agencies amid protests

On Friday, President William Ruto took a decisive step, scrapping the budget for the offices of Kenya’s first and second ladies after nationwide protests.

• July 5, 2024
Ruto and Kenyan protesters
Ruto and Kenyan protesters

On Friday, President William Ruto took a decisive step, scrapping the budget for the offices of Kenya’s first and second ladies after nationwide protests.

Mr Ruto announced this in a live broadcast on Friday.

He also dissolved 47 agencies, suspending non-essential travels for officials.

Mr Ruto said he is cutting “the number of  advisors in government by 50% immediately.”

“The operations of the office of the first lady, second lady and the wife of the prime cabinet will be removed,” Mr Ruto added.

According to the Kenyan president, all non-essential travel by state and public officers “is hereby suspended,” and “no state officer or public servant will participate in harambee.”

He added, “In keeping up with the austerity measures we promised, 47 State corporations with overlapping and duplicating functions to be dissolved and affected staff to be transferred to other ministries.”

For three straight weeks, protesters marched on the streets of Kenya, disrupting commercial activities for the third week since the protests against the Finance Bill broke out on June 18.

However, the protests took a deadly trajectory as protesters occupied the parliament, defying police’s teargas, water cannons and live bullets. 

Footages of police opening live rounds on protesters, live bullet shells, and corpses of protesters flood the internet from Kenya, sparking global outrage against Mr Ruto, who, last Wednesday, announced the withdrawal of the bill. 

Amnesty International had accused Mr Ruto of deploying snipers to shoot down protesters, calling for his trial at the International Criminal Court. 

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights reported that 39 were killed, hundreds injured, and over 30 enforced disappearances were recorded while lamenting police used “excessive and disproportionate force” on protesters.

Governor of Migori County, Ochillo Ayacko, had also condemned Kenyan police for using brute force against anti-Finance Bill protesters, shooting them in the back as they fled. 

However, Mr Ruto, in an interview with journalists on Sunday night, said there was no blood on his hands in pushback against criticisms that he watched police kill protesters before withdrawing the controversial bill. 

Earlier, Kenyan authorities declared some anti-Finance bill protesters wanted as the protests run into its third week.

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