Prepare for third wave of protests, Raila tells President Ruto

Raila Odinga

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leaders, led by Mr Raila Odinga (centre)arrive for a press briefing at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation offices in Nairobi on July 12, 2023.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

A defiant Azimio la Umoja One Kenya boss Raila Odinga on Wednesday (July 12, 2023) vowed to lead a third wave of anti-government protests, even as he called off his Kamukunji rally.

Addressing journalists at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation in Nairobi, Mr Odinga who termed the countrywide protests a success despite police brutality, alleged there was an elaborate scheme by Kenya Kwanza to attack innocent Kenyans at the Kamukunji grounds on Wednesday.

“Late last night, we received intelligence of a most heinous plan by Kenya Kwanza to ferry armed goons who would attack peaceful attendees of our rally in Kamkunji. These goons had express orders to shoot directly into the crowd while enjoying police protection,” said Mr Odinga.

He spoke as anti-riot police continued to engage a group of youth who were determined to access the grounds. Police had swung into action moments past 11 am as the Azimio attempted by to erect a dais, firing tear gas at them and a number of youths. Hell broke loose as the youth retaliated by pelting the police with stones.

“Early this morning (Wednesday), our crew who had been sent to set up the stage at Kamukunji were attacked and their equipment damaged. Some were arrested. In line with the intelligence we received, armed goons descended on Kamukunji grounds and shot indiscriminately into the crowd,” he said.

“In order to protect our people and avert more injury and loss of lives, we have taken the strategic decision not to proceed with the rally at Kamkunji this afternoon (Wednesday). In any case, the people have made the point,” he added. The ODM leader also condemned the police for killing and injuring protesters.

Mr Odinga said the protests were about Kenyans refusing to move on until they get a good deal from President William Ruto.

“We agree with them. This time around, there is no moving on until Ruto shows a readiness to listen to and respect the people. People deserve a deal, not bullets and tear gas,” said Mr Odinga. “Kenyans clearly understand that if they let Ruto get away with his present display of disrespect, dictatorship and contempt for people, he will try to get away with many other bad things.”

He said the protests will continue until the President “comes out openly and agrees to repeal the Finance Act and embark on other measures to lower the cost of living.”

With unity and commitment, Mr Odinga reiterated, “We will force Ruto to give Kenyans a good deal. We will shortly communicate the third wave and next course of action”.

He said Kenyans were determined to decide for themselves how they are going to shape their lives now that they have been abandoned by their leaders.

Mr Odinga spoke as four UDA MPs supported a legislative proposal that if enacted would compel the organisers of demonstrations that turn chaotic to take full responsibility in the event of loss of life or destruction to property.

The draft Assembly, Demonstration, Picketing and Petition Bill 2023, by Mbeere North MP Geoffrey Ruku follows the demonstrations that rocked the country paralysing business and learning in schools.

Mr Ruku said that such demonstrations have previously led to loss of lives and destruction of property with Wednesday not an exception and that “it has come a time for the planners to take responsibility.”

“This Bill seeks to implement Article 37 of the Constitution and that the right to picket, demonstrate, peaceful assembly shall be limited to the extent that such limitation is necessary and reasonable in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, public order,” the draft Bill reads.

 “People have come out even in the most remote parts of the country to express their displeasure with the Ruto regime and the message is out loud and clear that Kenyans are tired,” he said.

Kenyans, Mr Odinga added, were tired of the economic and social stagnation they find themselves in, as well as “rules and askaris everywhere whose sole purpose is to pick every coin we make and take it to Ruto as tax, while we go home with nothing for our families.”