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Ruto forced to eat humble pie as Gen Z protests escalate

Anti-Finance bill protestors demonstrating outside ACK Church of Christ the King Pro-Cathedral in Nyahururu, Nyandarua County during the consecration and enthronement of Rev. Major Samson Mburu Gachath on June23,2024. President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua among other leaders attended. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

President William Ruto has caved into the demands of the country's new generation of adults now protesting against proposals of the Finance Bill 2024 saying he is open to dialogue.

Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua faced the wrath of the youth on Sunday outside the Anglican Church- Christ the King Pro-Cathedral in Nyahururu town where they were attending a Sunday service.

Chanting 'Ruto Must Go! 'Reject Finance Bill,' a group of young people laid siege peacefully outside the church, forcing the president to abandon his tradition of addressing rallies after a church service.

The head of state came to a near-admission that his administration erred in its policies that have hurt Kenyans.

“The youths are our children (youth). I want to tell them thank you for coming out and engaging on the affairs of the country we will have a conversation with you. We will have a conversation we build a proper nation.” He told a congregation at The Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Pro-Cathedral in Nyahururu town.

A contingent of armed security personnel and the presidential guards cordoned off the church after screening the faithful who attended the service.

The officers watched helplessly as the youth shouted in their faces, screaming and chanting anti-government slogans.

Not a single public service vehicle was allowed in the vicinity of the church as all entries were sealed off by security officers.

A group of youth carrying water bottles in anticipation of being tear-gassed- were locked outside the venue as the service proceeded.

A youth who led the "Occupy Nyahururu" protest Mwabili Mwagodi, said security personnel blocked them from accessing the venue of the service.

He said they had mobilized youths from as far as Mombasa to come to Nyahururu.

Inside the church, the clergy banned politicians from addressing the congregation and only allowed the president and his deputy to make their remarks.

During the Sunday service that also acted as a consecration and enthronement ceremony for Major (RTD) Reverend Samson Mburu Gachathi as the third Bishop of the Diocese of Nyahururu, DP Rigathi introduced politicians present.

The president, who was accompanied by his deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, and a host of politicians allied to the Kenya Kwanza administration, said he was concerned about the issues raised by the young people.

The head of state welcomed the recent wave of demonstrations that are likely to escalate this week, terming them a crucial initiative to address pressing issue of national importance.

In an attempt to calm down the angry youth, the president said his administration has the interest of the young people at heart and was willing to iron out the outstanding issues amicably.

“I want to congratulate you for stepping forward and showing your concerns over national matters. You have done a democratic duty to stand and be recognized. We will have a conversation with you so that we can identify your issues and we can work together as a nation,” Ruto said.

He added; “I am very proud of our young people, they have stepped forward tribeless, peacefully and we are going to engage them so that together we can build a greater nation."

Earlier ACK Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit had urged the president to command police officers to refrain from using force during the protests.

He said the protests were peaceful and that the young people had displayed maturity during the street demonstrations.

"Let us embrace the spirit of listening more than talking. Even in what is going on, those are children from our families let us not use any excessive force but we also urge them not to be lawless and destroy, maim or kill," said Ole Sapit.

The protests that started last week on Tuesday, culminated in the fatal shooting by police of two persons.

Rev. Major (rtd) Gachathi asked for forgiveness from Generation Z, saying the church has heard their cries and concerns.

"We have heard your cries, your concerns and please forgive us where we have failed as a church," he said.

Kenya Red Cross stated last Friday that 39 protestors had been injured during the fracas with the police with four victims left nursing gunshot wounds.

Rex Masai was allegedly shot dead by a plain cloth police officer in Nairobi’s central business district on Thursday night.

The protestors are likely to intensify their push for total withdrawal of the Bill that has already sailed through the second reading in the national assembly.

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