Raila Odinga

Azimio leader Raila Odinga.

| Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Raila Odinga changes tack in tackling President Ruto

What you need to know:

  • An Azimio insider says Mr Odinga's plan is to move from street protests to exposing corruption scandals and taking them to court.
  • The ODM leader has already raised a red flag over the procurement of petroleum products under

Opposition leader Raila Odinga appears to have devised new strategies to keep President William Ruto's Kenya Kwanza administration in check.

The leader of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition is slowly moving away from the usual street protests as he presses ahead with his pushback against Ruto's government and explores other tactics.

Insiders in Mr Odinga's camp told the Nation that while the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader believes Article 37 of the Constitution allows Kenyans to take to the streets in protest, the Ruto administration has abused it by "indiscriminately shooting and killing innocent protesters". 

Mr Odinga on Sunday accused President Ruto of ordering police to shoot protesters during theanti-government protests.

"This is not the end. We will continue to fight for the rights of Kenyans. We had peaceful demonstrations but the police used excessive force," Mr Odinga said.

Mr Odinga on Monday accused President Ruto of ordering police to shoot demonstrators during the Azimio protests and said the opposition had taken the government to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity.

"They beat our people and killed some during the demonstrations. We have filed a case against them at the ICC in The Hague and we are pursuing it. We have also said that we stopped the demonstrations to give dialogue a chance and not because we fear anyone," Mr Odinga said.

He added: "On Wednesday and Thursday I will hold crucial meetings and after that I will tell you the way forward. 

An Azimio insider says Mr Odinga's plan is to move from street protests to exposing corruption scandals and taking them to court.

The ODM leader has already raised a red flag over the procurement of petroleum products under the government-to-government deal that Kenya appears to have signed with Saudi Arabia.

"There was no G-to-G. Kenya did not sign any contracts with Saudi Arabia or the UAE. Only the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum signed a deal with state-owned oil companies in the Middle East," he revealed.

He added: "Why Ruto chose to characterise the deal as G-to-G is the first red flag that points to mischief in this deal".

While 'unearthing' the scandal was one thing, Mr Odinga has gone further, calling on the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), the Auditor General and the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority to investigate the matter.

In his letter dated November 24, Mr Odinga, through his legal adviser Paul Mwangi, states that sovereign agreements do not result from competitive bidding and that the operational agreement also undermines Kenya's procurement laws.

He argues that the MOU also "undermines the national interest and embarrasses the people of Kenya".

In his new attack on the government, Mr Odinga is also expected to "abandon direct confrontation with President Ruto over the high cost of living and leave it to him to deal with it as he has promised".

President Ruto has repeatedly said that he has a plan to address the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities and stabilise the country's economy.

According to the Head of State, the Kenya Kwanza administration's Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda recognises that the country's poor economic performance is mainly due to the underperformance of agriculture, hence the need to boost production.

"Agriculture's contribution to employment, incomes, foreign exchange, cost of living and industrialisation has two interrelated implications".

"Failure to invest in agriculture deprives the economy of a tremendous opportunity to grow steadily, increasing unemployment, poverty and inequality, and strategic interventions in agriculture can ignite the national economy and put it on the path to inclusive growth," he argues.

Mr Odinga's camp told the Nation that they will now let the President "deal with his mess" but will continue to offer possible solutions to make life easier for ordinary Kenyans.

"We are leaving the cost of living to Ruto to deal with as he has asked. And there will be trouble if they don't release the full capitation grant to schools in January," an insider in Azimio told the Nation.

Mr Odinga is eyeing the courts to force the government to drop some of its policies to make life easier for ordinary Kenyans.

Jubilee deputy leader David Murathe said matters already enacted into law such as the Finance Bill, housing levy and VAT on fuel are executive decisions and the opposition cannot tell a government in power how to deal with its problems.

"Let them (Kenya Kwanza) hang themselves. We should actually support them to become more and more unpopular with the public on this cost of living issue if they cannot heed our proposals," Mr Murathe told the Nation.

Mr Odinga has in the past urged President Ruto to introduce far-reaching reforms in his administration to tackle the high cost of living, noting that increased taxation was not the best approach.

He has urged the government to immediately stop non-essential government spending, reduce the size of government and freeze local and international travel, conferences and workshops.

The opposition leader also called on Kenya Kwanza to end corruption and theft of public funds.