President Ruto dismisses Raila's Azimio protests as ‘sabotage’

President William Ruto (centre), his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, Governor Patrick Ole Ntutu

President William Ruto (centre), his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, Governor Patrick Ole Ntutu and other leaders engage at the William Ole Ntimama’s stadium in Narok County during an interdenominational prayer service on January 29, 2023. 

Photo credit: John Njoroge | Nation Media Goup

President William Ruto yesterday led his lieutenants in dismissing opposition leader Raila Odinga’s protests, saying they are ‘sponsored’ by some cartels to sabotage the Kenya Kwanza administration’s efforts to revive the economy.

President Ruto reiterated that the government will not allow the protests called by Mr Odinga — who claims he was denied his election victory — to distract his administration from delivering on its promises to Kenyans.

Mr Odinga has vowed to pile pressure on the President to resign, alleging that a whistleblower in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) released documents that prove he won the election by more than 2.2 million votes.

“After the 2022 General Election, Kenyans spoke. They allocated us different roles and I got the government while my opponent was relegated to the opposition side," said Dr Ruto during an interdenominational prayer service at the William ole Ntimama stadium in Narok.

“I, therefore, do not need the approval of the opposition to implement my development agenda. I know Raila Odinga fought three regimes and got a handshake, but I want to tell him and his lieutenants that my government has nothing for people who are after selfish interests for themselves and their families,” he said.

'Shadowy' financier

Politicians who accompanied the President at the prayer service claimed Mr Odinga’s protests are financed by someone who wants what happened on August 15, 2022, at Bomas of Kenya not to be revealed to Kenyans. The day was when Dr Ruto was declared the winner of the presidential election, after a fracas at the Bomas of Kenya.

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wa claimed the protests are sponsored by cartels keen to derail development.

“During last year’s elections, we told you Raila Odinga was a project of the then-government and we were right. We are now vindicated. Because all these disruptive calls are sponsored. They are projects of someone else, not the people you see on the road or on the streets,” said Mr Ichung’wa.

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga addresses supporters at a rally at Nairobi's Jacaranda Grounds

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga addresses supporters at a rally at Nairobi's Jacaranda Grounds on January 29, 2023. 

Photo credit: Tony Karumba | AFP

According to the MP, the sponsor of the protests does not want what happened at Bomas of Kenya revealed to Kenyans.

At the same time, President Ruto defended his government's plan to borrow Sh600 billion to bridge the Sh900 billion budget deficit in the 2023/24 financial year.

“We will reduce our borrowing until our budget will be self-sustaining. We want to avoid over-borrowing as it is a trap. I will keep my focus despite who says or writes what," said Dr Ruto.

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, the chairman of the parliamentary Budget and Appropriations Committee, said there was a gap of Sh862 billion in the budget, prompting the borrowing.

His deputy, Mr Rigathi Gachagua, unusually steered off politics and instead took the opportunity to introduce top government officials from the Maasai community. 

Mr Gachagua said that despite the Maa community voting 50 per cent for Kenya Kwanza, Dr Ruto still gave it plum jobs.

Remain focused

For his part, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi asked President Ruto to keep his eyes on the ball in spite of opposition. 

“Azimio dug an economic pit for us through loans. The economic mess did not start with the Kenya Kwanza administration," said Mr Musavadi.

He said opposition demonstrations were ill-advised.

“If you recognise him or not, it is your choice. The President of Kenya is Ruto. These people (opposition) should tell us what they want,” said Mr Mudavadi.

Lawmakers allied to the ruling party also told off the opposition over the IEBC Amendment Act, 2022, saying the law was made during the "Handshake" regime.

Led by Mr Ichung’wa, they said the 13th Parliament only made one amendment before the President assented to the Bill.

"We only changed the clause that the Public Service Board was to pick four commissioners. All the MPs and senators from the opposition were present and never said anything against it," said Mr Ichung’wa.

Mr Nyoro disclosed that the Ruto administration will not interrupt the opposition demonstrations.

"You (opposition) can picket for as long as you want but you should know that the President you are dealing with can't be threatened," he said.

The event was attended by governors Patrick Ntutu (Narok), Joseph ole Lenku (Kajiado), Hillary Barchok (Bomet) and Kirinyaga's Anne Waiguru.

Former Narok Governor Samuel Tunai also attended the event that was snubbed by area Senator Ledama ole Kina.

Other MPs present were George Sunkuiya (Kajiado West), Julius Sunkuli (Kilgoris), Paul Mwirigi (Igembe South), Lemanken Aramat (Narok East) and Kitilai Ntutu (Narok South).