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Kenyan church council urges president to dissolve Cabinet amid ongoing protests

Youth attending a special dedication service at the Holy Family Basilica hold roses in honor of lives lost during recent protests in Nairobi on July 7, 2024.
Youth attending a special dedication service at the Holy Family Basilica hold roses in honor of lives lost during recent protests in Nairobi on July 7, 2024.

Some Kenyan church leaders are calling on President William Ruto to dissolve his Cabinet as protests of his administration continue.

Ruto withdrew proposed tax increases that set off the protests, but many Kenyans blame Ruto's Cabinet for the country's debt and economic problems.

The National Council of Churches of Kenya, which represents some of the country’s biggest churches and religious organizations, has added its voice to protests, saying Ruto’s administration is marred by bad governance and allegations of corruption.

Council of Churches general secretary, Reverend Chris Kinyanjui called for Ruto to fire his ministers.

"The president has himself said that his Cabinet is incompetent," Kinyanjui said. "Kenyans are saying he has an incompetent Cabinet, and in addition, many members of his Cabinet are also corrupt.”

Ruto’s government recently proposed tax increases to offset the country’s debt. The proposals sparked protests which killed at least 40 people and injured more than 380.

Ruto withdrew the tax hikes after protesters stormed the parliament buildings, forcing legislators to flee.

On Friday, Ruto announced new measures to reduce government expenditures, including merging key ministries and state corporations, banning the purchase of government vehicles for 12 months, and suspending nonessential travel by state and public officers.

Kenyan political commentator Dismas Mokua noted that none of Ruto’s Cabinet members have been convicted on corruption charges and told VOA that Ruto will be reluctant to dismiss them.

"If the courts have not pronounced one guilty of anything, the probability of President Ruto firing somebody from the Cabinet merely on the account of people demanding he should be fired is almost zero," Mokua said. "But the key consideration here is really the cost of living. If he is able to turn around the economy and ensure the public debt is not a burden on the majority of Kenyans ... then people will settle down and they will wait for 2027."

Some protesters are also demanding the formation of a new, independent electoral commission.

Mokua said the demands of the Kenyan protests – which have been dubbed Generation Z protests for the age of their organizers — are far reaching.

"The pressure which is going to be applied by Gen Z is not going to be limited to the national government. It will go down to county governments, it will go down to the members of the national assembly and it will go down to churches," Mokua said.

The secretary-general of Kenya's ruling United Democratic Alliance, Cleophas Malala, said the party will start a program of government outreach and engagement.

He said political leaders must not come to the people only when they want their votes.

Some experts blame the recent protests on a lack of space for Kenyans to air their grievances, and the government's failure to engage with the public on laws being considered.

The constitution requires citizens' input before a law is passed, something that successive Kenyan administrations have made little effort to obtain.