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Forecast podcast: Kenyan president withdraws proposed tax hikes as protests turn deadly

Street with uniformed police officers in protective gear, armored vehicles, and smoke in the background.

Editors Jimmy Lovaas and Jaime Calle Moreno discuss the deadly protests in Kenya over proposed tax hikes, plus more on peace talks in Colombia, a Hindu pilgrimage in Indian-controlled Kashmir and elections in France and the U.K.

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These stories and others are also available in our free weekly Forecast newsletter.

This episode was produced with work from Factal editors Jaime Calle Moreno, Irene Villora, Awais Ahmad, Owen Bonertz and Jeff Landset. Produced and edited by Jimmy Lovaas. Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe

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Factal Forecast podcast transcript

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.


Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.

Today is June 27.

In this week’s forecast we’ve got protests in Kenya, peace talks in Colombia, a Hindu pilgrimage in Indian-controlled Kashmir, and elections in France and the U.K.

You can also read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you’ll find a link to in the show notes.

Kenya protests

Information compiled by Jaime Calle Moreno

JIMMY: Up first, we’ll take a look at the deadly protests underway in Kenya. For more on that I’ve got fellow Factal editor Jaime Calle Moreno.

JIMMY: Hello, Jaime. 

JAIME: Hi, Jimmy, how’s it going?

JIMMY: Quite well. I’m glad you’re here. You’ve been covering the Kenyan protests quite a bit and I’m hoping you can get our listeners up to speed on what’s going on. So, to start, can you give us a bit of a recap?

JAIME: Yeah, well, it really all starts with the financial deal made between Kenya and the International Monetary Fund, the IMF, in April of 2021. Now, the loan agreement is just over $2 billion and to put it in, kind of, layman’s terms, it pretty much means that the IMF is set to give Kenya quite a lot of money over a multi year period to boost the economy after kind of a particularly bad fiscal period during the Coronavirus pandemic, which happened in many other regions and countries as well. Now, the IMF typically sets in stone several benchmarks in order for Kenya to continue receiving those funds progressively. So the problem is that Kenya has had a bit of a slump economically in the last year or so with, kind of, rising state debt, not enough state revenue. And some of it isn’t really through any fault of their own. Kenya has seen some very catastrophic natural disasters occur this year alone. We’ve seen almost, I think, around 300 people killed due to extensive flooding throughout the rainy season. And this also happened in December. Now this has obviously put, to some degree, a strain on government resources. So now, Earlier in June, the IMF and Kenya, through one of these consistent reviews that the IMF does with countries that it gives funds to, with this, they have to return to a certain level of debt management. And so the finance bill then – which is kind of the crux of the issue here – is the budget for the next financial year and it seeks to raise a huge amount of money in taxes – around $2.7 billion. This is largely to maintain that debt, at a certain level, and also to kind of increase government revenue substantially. Now the government wants to raise sales taxes and duties on bread, cooking oil, other common goods. It was setting taxes as well on vehicles. And so, it affects the population quite significantly. The details of the finance bill were made public on June 18 and then protests sprung up immediately. This was also followed by outrage from the population, especially the younger generation, or what the Kenyan media is touting as Gen Z. Kenyan police, which we’ve seen before in anti-government protests last year in Nairobi as well,  are pretty heavy-handed when it comes to dispersing protesters. You know, tear gas, water cannons and on some occasions live gunfire being deployed to attempt to disperse the protesters from the areas that they’re in. This is particularly the case in the central business district of Nairobi, which is kind of in the center of the city. But we’ve also seen them from, kind of, just last week, we’ve seen them pop up as well in cities like Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret – which are more inland – and also Mombasa, which is quite a large city. These protests led to large amounts of people being injured and there were reports of some people being killed through live gunfire. But really, really, it all came to a climax on Tuesday, when very, very large scale demonstrations began across multiple cities and also in central Nairobi. Now, this coincided with the final stage of the members of parliament reading the bill. There were a couple of amendments that needed to be changed, but then they approved it, and directly after the protests began. What we ended up seeing through our coverage is that this young generation that is kind of spearheading these protests decided to storm the parliament building. Now, police immediately opened fire, attempting to disperse the protesters, but the crowd was just far too large and the police weren’t able to, kind of, stop them from entering parliament. The scenes were pretty crazy in central Nairobi where the parliament is. Protesters entered the building – they caused significant interior damage, you know. MPs were being escorted through an underground tunnel to safety from the protesters. Riot police were kind of using any means necessary to disperse them. Government buildings were set on fire, ambulances and medical stands that were in the surrounding area preparing for the protests were attacked with tear gas. It was quite harrowing to watch. You know, the initial open fire from the police left several bodies bloodied and motionless on the ground near the parliament building and the reports of injuries started to pour into different hospitals and clinics. In other counties, protesters also set fire to buildings linked to different MPs, as was the case with one nightclub in Eldoret, and as well as just razing different courts and government buildings throughout different counties. It continued for quite a while and by the nighttime, just outside of Nairobi in quite a large suburb called Githurai, a large group of protesters and police began clashing heavily. Hundreds of rounds of bullets were deployed by the police and it left around 20 officers injured and another 15 protesters arriving into hospital with bullet wounds.

JIMMY: And what’s the latest? Have you seen any new developments?

JAIME: Yeah, well, Wednesday has been quite a day in terms of the aftermath. Firstly, the death toll is sort of up in the air. A Kenyan human rights organization said that at least 22 people have been killed, last time I checked. There was over 300 injured and another 50 people at least arrested. Now, other sources say six to eight people killed in Nairobi alone, but what is important here is that individuals clearly lost their lives during the protests, we can see that through the videos, and that a large amount of the injured, they’re also in critical condition waiting for emergency surgeries in the hospitals themselves. And outside of that, there was actually quite a lot of movement politically. The defense minister first touted deploying the military to Nairobi to assist in controlling the protests themselves, which was actually later appealed by a court and eventually ruled off, but would have been a significant escalation in terms of police force in the protests. And there were also accusations from the president that this, kind of, Gen Z social movement online and through word-of-mouth had criminal elements involved. And then he later blamed the National Intelligence Service as well. Additionally, several judges have said they’re gonna open up investigations into reports of protesters being kidnapped by police, which is clearly not a good sign if those investigations lead anywhere. But the most important kind of political update on Wednesday has been that President William Ruto announced that he would actually concede to the demands of the people and withdraw the bill without his signature in what is deemed as quite a turnaround move.

JIMMY: What sort of reactions have you seen to the protests?

JAIME: Well, domestically, it’s quite clear that the level of violence during the protests has left the country quite in shock and understandably quite angry. The police response was heavy and the damage to the parliament building – which is rarely seen, not just in Kenya, but in other countries as well – is quite significant. The demands of the anti-finance-bill protesters, kind of soon throughout the protests, turned into an anti-government in general and targeted this administration in particular, which is something that I think we may see in the very near future continue. Internationally, it’s been the same kind of rhetoric, as well, international organizations such as the UN have condemned the government and the police for its use of violence and countries across the world have issued travel advisories for Kenya, following the protests as well.

JIMMY: Well, considering all that, what do you think folks should be watching for next, then?

JAIME: Well, it’s quite a strange place to be right now. Not just politically, but also for the population. The finance bill itself, while, you know, has effectively been announced to be withdrawn, it’s by no means out of the picture. Parliament still has to decide a budget and finance bill for the upcoming financial year. And the economic issues Kenya is experiencing aren’t going to disappear magically, right? They need to reach certain revenue streams and debt management through policies that are likely going to be in the form of taxes. It has yet to be seen what happens politically in terms of what they substitute the controversial finance bill with and what kind of tax hikes, if any, they implement. But it’s clear that the IMF is also, you know, taking a keen interest in – to see what Kenya decides to do because, you know, if they don’t meet those targets, there’s always the case that the funds stop. And that would be a pretty difficult position for Kenya to be in. I think, additionally, in terms of the protests, they’ve caused quite a bit of an uproar across the population and so I think that it’s still likely the protests continue towards the current administration. So we’ll see if those form or not in the coming days. I think people are quite angry that, on Wednesday, there has been this turnaround after letting, you know, a week of protests kind of go unhindered and an excessive police violence be used in these protests. The finance bill has also brought the population forward towards something that seems to be clear, and that’s that the country’s economy is affecting people on a daily basis. That disillusionment won’t just end now. We’ve already seen continued calls for protests Thursday, even after the bill was technically withdrawn. So it’ll be interesting to see how this kind of young generation moves the protests forwards or if they don’t. And then I think additionally, it’ll be interesting to see other countries surrounding Kenya also have negotiations with the IMF. And so it’ll be it’ll be interesting to see whether or not they use this as an example, in terms of the agreements that they reach

JIMMY: Well, Jaime, I guess we’ll have to pause there for today. As always, I thank you very much for your time and insight. Appreciate it.

JAIME: Thanks jimmy

Round of FARC talks in Colombia to end

Information compiled by Irene Villora

JIMMY: The Colombian government and the Segunda Marquetalia armed group are holding a round of peace talks until Saturday.

The negotiating teams were officially installed in Caracas, Venezuela, early this week, including FARC leader Iván Marquez. That, after false rumors of his death were denied in May. 

During the talks, the parties will establish specific topics of discussion, negotiation protocols and initial measures to advance in the de-escalation of the conflict.

Now, both sides have expressed their will to abstain from actions that hinder mutual trust during the negotiation process. 

Segunda Marquetalia representatives are looking to secure a peace agreement that provides greater guarantees for demobilized dissidents than that of the 2016 deal.

The group withdrew from that agreement over claims of violations by the previous Colombian executive. 

Dissident leaders have also expressed wishes to transition into the country’s political life. 

Still, negotiators do face a challenge in defining the future judicial treatment of repeat offenders such as Márquez, who are banned from obtaining further legal benefits after breaking the 2016 peace agreement.

Pilgrims start Amarnath Yatra to Pahalgam, Jammu and Kashmir

Information compiled by Awais Ahmad

JIMMY: Thousands of Hindu pilgrims will begin their journey to Pahalgam in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Saturday for the annual Amarnath Yatra. 

The 45-day pilgrimage will see devotees make an arduous 28-mile journey from Pahalgam to the Amarnath Cave, where an ice stalagmite is believed to be a manifestation of Hindu god Shiva. 

Attendance is expected to be in the hundreds of thousands, with last year drawing more than 400,000 people

Now, while pilgrims face unpredictable weather while traveling on rough terrain, an uptick in militancy, including a fatal attack on pilgrims in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district, has raised extra concerns this year. 

Local authorities have tightened security and put additional measures in place to ensure the safety of the pilgrims.

French National Assembly elections

Information compiled by Owen Bonertz

JIMMY: France will hold legislative elections on Sunday. 

Of course, President Emmanuel Macron’s shocking decision to call the National Assembly election could result in major gains for the country’s far-right National Rally party.

June 9’s European Parliament elections saw the nativist National Rally make major gains, while Macron’s own pro-European party lost 10 out of the 81 total seats. 

Faced with the defeat, Macron quickly dissolved a legislature sympathetic to his agenda on the grounds of democracy and listening to the electorate

And while Macron himself will remain in office until 2027, French voters will elect a new body of 577 National Assembly deputies, who indirectly choose the prime minister. 

Constituencies where no candidate wins a clear majority will hold a second round of voting on July 7.

Now, most polling indicates Macron’s coalition will lose control of the National Assembly as they currently sit third behind the far-right National Rally and an alliance of leftist parties known as the New Popular Front. 

If National Rally outperforms its polling, the party could form a majority in the National Assembly, making 28-year-old leader Jordan Bardella the next prime minister. 

More likely is a scenario where either National Rally or the New Popular Front win a plurality of seats and are forced to form a coalition with another party, like The Republicans. 

National Rally has campaigned on cutting back immigration, lowering taxes, and pulling away from France’s commitments to the EU and NATO.

U.K. general election

Information compiled by Jeff Landset

JIMMY: The U.K. will hold a general election next Thursday and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s political career hangs in the balance.

Sunak needed to call for elections by December, within five years of the 2019 election that saw Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party win in a landslide

Sunak took office in October 2022 after Liz Truss, who succeeded Johnson following the Partygate scandal, stepped down on her 50th day in office. 

Many experts thought Sunak would wait to call elections until the economy showed signs of improving, but that has not happened to a significant degree.

Now, most analysts believe Sunak and the Conservative Party will lose

Polls show Labour with a huge lead that would likely put Keir Starmer into 10 Downing Street and end 14 years of Conservative rule. 

Starmer has campaigned on “rebuilding” the post-Brexit economy and National Health Service as well as stopping Tory scandals

Still, if the unlikely does happen, Sunak has pledged to bring back mandatory national service and that could lead to 18-year-olds choosing between going into the armed forces or volunteering in their community.

JIMMY: As always, thank you for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast and newsletter each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. Please subscribe and review wherever you find your podcasts. We’d love it if you’d consider telling a friend about us.  

Today’s episode includes work from Factal editors Irene Villora, Awais Ahmad, Owen Bonertz and Jeff Landset. Our interview featured editor Jaime Calle Moreno and our podcast is produced and edited by me – Jimmy Lovaas. Our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

Until next time, if you have any feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing

This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed. 

Copyright © 2024 Factal. All rights reserved.

Music: ‘Factal Theme’ courtesy of Andrew Gospe

Top photo: At least 22 people died Tuesday during protests outside Kenya’s parliament building in central Nairobi. (Photo: Capital FM Kenya / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0)

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