Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga called for nationwide civil disobedience in an effort to reverse recent tax increases agreed by parliament while addressing his supporters in the capital, Nairobi.
Odinga, who was runner-up in last year’s presidential election, also called for a revival of mass protests against President William Ruto’s government.
“We must punish the traitors. We must repeal the finance bill,” he told thousands of his supporters.
This comes a few days after President Ruto signed the controversial tax measures into law after it was passed by MPs last week.
The new law raises the value-added tax on fuel products from 8% to 16%.
It also introduces a 1.5% housing levy on employees’ basic pay, which will be charged to both the employer and the employee. The money is supposed to go to a fund to construct homes for the less well off.
“Through civil disobedience, we will deny Ruto the taxes he thinks he can extort from us by force. We are taking back our power,” Odinga said.
He appealed to public transport operators to increase the carrying capacity of their vehicles to cover the higher operational costs, while also urging police officers to permit overloading of the vehicles.
Odinga also outlined a way to “embrace tax boycotts” including limiting petrol consumption through carpools to reduce the collection of taxes from fuel.
He also requested that employers disregard the “punitive” tax deductions, including the controversial 1.5% housing levy.
President Ruto has defended the new law, stating that the housing fund aims to build affordable homes for low-income individuals and generate job opportunities.