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The Progressive International salutes the people of Kenya as they resist — and defeat — an IMF package to bankrupt the nation.

In response to the proposed 2024 Finance Bill, which would oversee a dramatic increase in the cost of living, thousands took to the streets in protest. They demanded that the Bill be withdrawn and that President William Ruto resign from his post.

Pushed through at the behest of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the US State Department, the Bill would impose severe austerity measures and crippling taxes on Kenya’s working people, who are already strained by Kenya’s legacy of colonial underdevelopment.

The government responded to the peaceful protests with brutal force. In violation of Kenya’s constitution, the Ruto administration deployed the Kenyan Defence Force to the streets. Together with the police, they barricaded major roads and assaulted, gassed, and executed protesters in broad daylight. Estimates suggest that over 200 people have now been killed.

By 26 June, the government succumbed to pressure and withdrew the proposed Finance Bill. But the protesters are not backing down. They demand dignified jobs and quality public services; they demand the reclaiming of stolen land and an end to the privatization of public institutions and enterprises; and they demand that foreign institutions — from NATO to the IMF — cease interfering in Kenya’s sovereignty.

Kenya’s self-determination has implications far beyond East Africa. As a “major non-NATO ally” of the United States, Kenya is increasingly becoming the tip of the spear of imperialist aggression both regionally and globally. Last year, Kenya joined European states in pushing for military intervention in Niger. Recently, the first contingent of 400 Kenyan police officers arrived in Haiti — proxies in the US’s neo-colonial designs for the long-suffering island.

The Progressive International stands firmly with the people of Kenya. They refuse to become another laboratory for neoliberalism — impoverished, beaten, or killed for the benefit of foreign corporations and their lackeys in the Kenyan government. A victory for the Kenyan people would mark a defeat for imperialism everywhere and a milestone in the struggle for African sovereignty.