How Raila's Azimio plans to execute resistance against Ruto regime
Opposition leader Raila Odinga is today expected to launch a multi-faceted approach to his mass action plan against President William Ruto’s administration, including “civil disobedience”.
This follows yesterday’s lapse of the 14-day ultimatum the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader had issued to the President to expedite the opening of the 2022 presidential election servers and address the high cost of living.
In what was seen as a reaction to Mr Odinga’s threats, the government yesterday deployed security officers to areas around State House in Nairobi and Kisumu.
In Nairobi, at least two security officers were sent to guard roadblocks erected on several routes, including State House Road and the route between Kenya Comfort Suites and Ralph Bunche Road, while another team was stationed at State House Gate C, which is often unguarded, to control traffic.
In Kisumu, police cordoned off the road leading to the State Lodge. Jomo Kenyatta highway was also blocked from the wee hours yesterday, with motorists forced to use alternative routes.
The Nation has established that Mr Odinga has drawn an intricate plan to advance his resistance to President Ruto’s administration.
The measures that are expected to pile pressure on the government include staging sit-ins or occupation of public offices, advancing the resistance in parliament using elected leaders and continuation of nationwide rallies dubbed people’s barazas.
Others are boycotting certain products from companies perceived to have backed President Ruto’s “unlawful usurpation of state power”, removal of the presidential portraits from businesses and offices in Azimio’s strongholds and street protests.
The plans, according to insiders, could be unveiled gradually depending on the government’s responsiveness to the coalition’s demands.
Mr Odinga has declared that the Ruto administration is illegitimate, citing a whistleblower’s data that he insists indicates he won last year’s election by more than 2.2 million votes after garnering 8.1 million votes against Dr Ruto’s 5.9 million.
In the results announced by former Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairman Wafula Chebukati, President Ruto garnered 7.1 million votes (50.4 per cent) against Mr Odinga’s 6.9 million votes (48.85 per cent).
Yesterday, Azimio leaders addressed journalists at Chungwa House in Nairobi as they urged Kenyans to await a declaration by Mr Odinga today on how the resistance against the Kenya Kwanza administration would be advanced. The leaders lifted the lid on the opposition’s plans to occupy public offices to demand government action to reduce the high cost of living.
In a joint statement signed by ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna, Senate Deputy Minority Whip Enoch Wambua and MPs Nabii Nabwera (Lugari), Antony Oluoch (Mathare), Sam Atandi (Alego Usonga) and Jared Okello (Nyando), the leaders who set the stage for Mr Odinga’s presser today lamented that life was continuously becoming unbearable as the government does very little to salvage the situation.
“As Kenyans, we pay administrators to solve our problems, not collate and highlight them. Our question to William Ruto, Gachagua, the team at the National Treasury and the so-called council of economic advisers are: When are things going to get better? When will the shilling stop falling and losing to other currencies? And when will the shortage of dollars end?” they asked.
They also questioned when the prices of essential commodities would come down and warned that Kenyans will soon take action to force the government to address their plight.
“We want answers and if they do not come in the next few days, we will have no option but to lead our supporters into these offices for answers. We will follow these officers anywhere and everywhere for answers and not warnings,” Mr Sifuna said.
Mr Odinga is tomorrow expected to continue with opposition rallies in Migori County before heading to Narok County on Saturday then to Mombasa on Sunday and Kilifi on Monday next week.
National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi said they would be able to conduct public rallies as other resistance plans continue.
“Just as I told you earlier, we have the capacity to scale the stairs as we chew gum,” he said. “The two—rallies and mass action—are not mutually exclusive, but let Kenyans wait for a clear roadmap from our coalition and party leader.”
Mr Odinga, while calling on his supporters to be ready to reclaim their stolen victory when the time comes, said that the expiry of the 14-day ultimatum would culminate in a declaration that would “change the trajectory of this country”.
Should the opposition chief resort to a product boycott, it would mirror his 2018 resistance against the Jubilee administration, where he listed Safaricom, Bidco and Brookside as some of the firms whose products and services their supporters should boycott. Mr Odinga, then leading the National Super Alliance (Nasa), said opposition supporters would boycott the products from companies benefiting from a regime that rigged the election and “killed our supporters”.
Nasa also accused Safaricom of aiding the rigging of the August 2017 poll in favour of former President Uhuru Kenyatta, a claim the firm vehemently denied and dismissed.
Mr Odinga also accused Kenyatta family-owned Brookside Dairies and the late billionaire Chris Kirubi’s Haco Industries of funding President Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party and thus denying Kenyans their right to elect their leaders in a democratic process.
But as Mr Odinga stets up resistance against the government, some of his allies in the coalition have not shied from expressing their reservations.
Kakamega Deputy Governor Ayub Savula yesterday expressed his disagreement over the planned mass action, equating it to an attack on a legitimate government.
He further told Mr Odinga not to expect Azimio governors and their deputies to join the protests, saying that members of Parliament and senators, who oversight the government, are best placed to attend the protests.
Additional reporting by Mercy Chelangat and Victor Raballa