Eyes on Raila as Ruto asks opposition to call off protests

President Ruto's nation address

President William Ruto has urged Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga to call off the anti-government demonstrations and allow for a bipartisan parliamentary approach in tackling issues raised by the opposition, particularly the recruitment of electoral commissioners.

Dr Ruto, who was addressing the nation from State House, Nairobi, called for a bi-partisan engagement in Parliament over the reconstitution of the Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission (IEBC), one of the key issues behind Azimio's call for nationwide protests against the government.

"I suggest a bi-partisan engagement in Parliament on the reconstitution of the IEBC panel within the parameters of the law and the constitution'" he said.

The President said the country should not find itself in the same position it was in following the handshake between opposition chief Raila Odinga and then-President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“As a believer in the rule of law and running an accountable government, our position is that we should never be in the position where this country was put in by the handshake where there is no distinction between the government and the opposition,” said Dr Ruto.

He has also reiterated the government's commitment to supporting the media saying no media will be shut down for covering anti-government protests.

"Kenya has come a long way and the era of switching off media is way behind us. The media has our absolute support no matter how biased they are against the government," said Dr Ruto

The address came hours after the media called out the Kenya Kwanza government over plans to shut down the internet and a number of media houses in a bid to block coverage of the protests called by the opposition.

Under the auspices of the Kenya Media Sector Working Group, the media stakeholders strongly called out Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and pockets of senior Kenya Kwanza Alliance officials for attempting “to deny the free flow of information to the public”.

The media stakeholders also threatened a raft of measures including giving the government a blackout and staging a peaceful demonstration on Wednesday, March 5.

Raila media briefing

Watch Raila media briefing HERE 

Mr Odinga, speaking moments after President Ruto's address, called off the Azimio protests saying they (Azimio) are ready for dialogue with Ruto's team.