Raila: Joining Ruto's government will taint my image

Azimio leader Raila Odinga

Azimio leader Raila Odinga. He has downplayed a possible power-sharing deal with President William Ruto.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga has insisted that the issue of reducing the high cost of living must be part of the discussions with Kenya's Kwanza regime if a lasting solution to the country's woes is to be found.

He also downplayed a possible power-sharing deal with President William Ruto, saying he did not want to be part of a tainted government riddled with corruption scandals.

Mr Odinga has also added that no amount of intimidation can stop him and his lieutenants from standing up for what is right for Kenyans and that he will continue to pressure Dr Ruto and hold him accountable to the promises he made during the campaigns.

In doing so, the former Prime Minister said he should not be misunderstood as seeking an opportunity to join the government through the back door as claimed by the President and other leaders allied to him.

The country's top leaders, Mr Odinga and Dr Ruto, have recently resorted to rallies in their strongholds as their hardline statements continue to cast doubt on their commitment to talks. While Mr Ruto continued his four-day tour of Central region, Mr Odinga was in Nyamira on Sunday.

During his tour of Mt Kenya region on Saturday, August 5, President Ruto said he would not accept talks that tended towards a "handshake" and that he would come down hard on the opposition if they continued with their anti-government protests.

Raila in Nyamira

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga is ushered at St Tiberious Ekerubo Catholic Church in Kitutu Masaba, Nyamira county for a church service by priest Lucas Ong'esa and other leaders on August 6, 2023.

Photo credit: Wycliffe Nyaberi | Nation Media Group

But speaking in Nyamira County on Sunday, August 6, the former Prime Minister slammed the President for claiming he was angling for a share of government positions, telling him instead to keep the positions to himself.

"We have said we want to talk, but do not intimidate us. We are many and Kenyans are patient enough for negotiations. If you are insincere, we are ready for other courses. We cannot be your slaves forever," Mr Odinga said when he attended a fundraising event at St Tiberious Ekerubo Catholic Church in Kitutu Masaba constituency.

Criticising the recent scandals that have rocked the Kenya Kwanza government, the ODM leader said if President Ruto continues to rule with an iron fist, he will fail to deliver on his promises to the people of Kenya.

"I cannot shake Ruto's hand. I do not want to because it will tarnish my image. His government is riddled with scandals and corruption. You have stolen, but know that Kenya does not belong to you alone. It belongs to all of us," Mr Odinga said.

Mr Odinga condemned the punitive taxes imposed by the government, saying they had left Kenyans living in misery.

"Everything is heavily taxed day and night. But where are you taking the taxes? The taxes should be used judiciously to build schools, buy drugs and other things that can benefit Kenyans," Mr Odinga lamented.

Mr Odinga also hit out at President Ruto over government appointments.

He said it was so unfortunate that some communities were being profiled and left out of government appointments because they did not support the Kenya Kwanza government.

He said Kenya is a democratic country and all regions must be included in the government to make them feel part of this nation.

Leaders who accompanied Mr Odinga to the church event included Nyamira Senator Okong'o Omogeni, MPS Clive Gisairo (Kitutu Masaba), Anthony Kibagendi (Kitutu Chache South), Obadiah Barongo (Bomachoge Borabu), Irene Mayaka (Nominated Senator), Dorice Aburi (Kisii Woman Representative) and other dignitaries.

The leaders present reiterated their call on the government to take measures to cushion Kenyans from the high cost of living.