Photo of Ugandan politician falsely depicted as Kenyan lawmaker assaulted over finance bill

Kenyan President William Ruto’s decision to withdraw the highly unpopular Finance Bill 2024 that aimed to introduce steep new taxes followed deadly protests in June. In the aftermath, a photo emerged online with claims it showed Kenyan parliamentarian John Chikati after he was assaulted by angry citizens for voting in favour of the proposed legislation. But the claim is false: the image shows Ugandan legislator Francis Mwijukye, who was attacked in connection with a land dispute. 

The photo of a man with a bloodied face has been shared more than 6,000 times since it was published on X on June 25, 2024. 

Written in both English and Swahili, the post’s caption reads: “Tongaren MP John Chikati who Voted yes for the Finance Bill 2024 has been greeted by citizens.”

Screenshot of the false post, taken on July 1, 2024

Tongaren is a constituency in western Kenya, about 370 kilometres from the capital Nairobi.

The post includes the Swahili word “amesalimiwa” which translates to “greeting,” and is a code word used by Kenyans on social media to mean punishing or attacking legislators who supported the Finance Bill 2024.

The same claim was also shared on Facebook here and here

Thousands of demonstrators stormed the Kenyan parliament on June 25, 2024, in protest against the contentious tax bill. A section of the building was set ablaze (archived here).

Human rights organisations reported a death toll of at least 39 people in the protest, whereas the government says 19 died (archived here).

Ruto withdrew the bill, but even after the reversal, pockets of protesters continued to take to the streets and call for his removal from office.

However, the image doing rounds on social media does not show a Kenyan legislator who voted for the bill.

Ugandan MP

A reverse image search found the photo in multiple social media posts originating from Uganda in early May 2024, including this X post by Geoffrey Kayemba, a Ugandan lawmaker (archived here).

Kayemba confirmed to AFP Fact Check that “the individual in the photo is Uganda Member of Parliament Francis Mwijuke” who represents Buhweju district in the country’s west and who sustained injuries in an attack by “goons”.

The assault on the Ugandan politician was reported by local news media including the Daily Monitor (archived here) and Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) (archived here). 

UBC, which posted a bulletin about the attack on its YouTube channel, confirmed to AFP Fact Check that the man featured in the image is Mwijukye. 

Mwijuke posted about his ordeal on his X account, saying he was assaulted by “goons” in a land dispute (archived here).

On June 30, 2024, Kenyan media reported that some leaders who voted in favour of the tax bill were attacked by enraged citizens who vandalised their homes and offices, looted their property and even set their cars on fire (archived here).

The reports do not mention Chikati as one of those who was targeted.

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