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Kenya appeals court upholds finance law that sparked unrest

Kenya appeals court upholds finance law that sparked unrest
Kenya's opposition Azimio coalition leader Raila Odinga (C), leads in lighting a candle and laying of flowers during a candle lighting vigil event to honor victims who died during the recent anti-government protests, at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation(JOOF), in Nairobi, Kenya, 26 July 2023. Recent nation-wide protests against the Kenyan government had been called by the Opposition coalition Azimio led by their opposition leader Raila Odinga, over high cost of living and new tax increases, that have been termed as punitive despite a court order stopping its implementations. EPA-EFE/Daniel Irungu

A Kenyan appeals court on Friday lifted a suspension placed on a disputed government finance law that will double the value-added tax on fuel and introduce a new housing levy - legislation that sparked deadly opposition protests this month.

Under the new law, the value added tax on fuel will double to 16% and workers will also face a 1.5% housing levy that will be matched by employers.

The case challenging the finance law was first brought to court by an opposition senator seeking a declaration that certain parts of the measure should be stopped on grounds that they are unconstitutional.

“Public interest tilts in favour of setting aside the conservatory orders by the trial judge,” the appeals judges said in their ruling.

President William Ruto’s government says the higher taxes are necessary to stabilise government finances, which have been strained by growing debt repayments and lower-than-expected growth in tax collection.

In response to the law’s signing, the opposition coalition has held five protests this month, some of which descended into violent confrontations with police where more than two dozen people were killed and scores injured.

(Reporting by Humphrey Malalo; writing by Hereward Holland; editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Mark Heinrich)

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