Kenyan president announces forum to tackle youth issues amid protests

Kenyan President, Williams Ruto

Kenyan President William Ruto on Tuesday announced that a national multispectral forum will hold July 15, to address issues raised by the country’s youth that sparked protests across the country.

Ruto said the proposed six-day forum will deliberate on issues including employment, tax policies, national debt, representation and accountability, and anti-corruption measures.

“We have had consultations and agreed that, to bring the priority, we will move ahead with the multisectoral forum,” he said in Nairobi, the country’s capital, during a meeting that gathered opposition leaders including former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Odinga, who is also the leader of the opposition, said leaders have agreed that dialogue is the way forward out of the current situation the country is in.

“We have agreed to give the people an opportunity to be heard and to articulate the grievances that are ailing our country so that a lasting solution can be found.” he said.

The president’s remarks followed a recent three-week anti-government protest across the country, sparked by the contentious Finance Bill 2024 which was later withdrawn from the parliament.

The protests, which was led by mostly young demonstrators, have so far left at least 41 people dead and more than 360 others injured, according to the state-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

The protesters had expressed outrage over provisions of the bill that would raise taxes on goods and services that many people depend on, such as bread, and mobile money transfers, to meet the government’s revenue targets.

Ruto said the forum will include 150 members, 50 of whom will be youth, while 100 people will be drawn from religious institutions, civil society, professional organisations and political parties, among other stakeholders.

He also welcomed political parties and all other stakeholders to work with the government to forge a new path for the country.

“As a way of charting the future from the current situation, I welcome all leaders and other stakeholders to work together to address the current economic situation through a broad-based political arrangement and to rally the country forward,” he added. (Xinhua/NAN)