Raila Odinga’s new strategy to counter President Ruto taxes

Raila Odinga

Azimio leaders led by Raila Odinga, Martha Karua, Eugene Wamalwa and Wycliffe Oparanya address journalists at their Capitol Hill offices in Nairobi on January 30, 2024.  

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has revealed that his coalition was working on a number of measures to ‘force’ President William Ruto’s administration to drop some of the punitive taxes, including the emotive housing levy.

Apart from joining forces with petitioners in some of the public litigation cases, the coalition is said to be considering calling for a fresh round of street protests, similar to the ones it staged last year before agreeing to initiate talks with the government.

Mr Odinga has since lined up a major political rally in Nairobi on Friday at the historic Kamkunji grounds. ODM officials said the political jamboree will double as a membership recruitment drive that the party has been running in the last couple of weeks across the country.

But sources indicated that Mr Odinga could be moving around the country to gauge the mood of the public for a possible fresh round of anti-government protests.

Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition Summit made the disclosure on its new strategy in countering President Ruto following a meeting chaired by Mr Odinga and attended by his co-principals, including Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, where they dispelled reports of division among them.

Ms Karua and her Democratic Action Party (DAP-K) counterpart Eugene Wamalwa – the two top leaders who publicly rejected the National Dialogue report – read the coalition’s joint statement to demonstrate their unity.

The meeting resolved to pursue out-of-court means in putting pressure on Kenya Kwanza administration to address the high cost of living that has been worsened by rising taxes and additional statutory deductions.

Most of the proposals by the coalition to bring down the cost of living, including one to drop the housing levy or make it voluntary – were rejected by the Kenya Kwanza team in the National Dialogue.

“Azimio remains extremely disturbed by the worsening cost of living, the ever-rising and reckless taxes, the collapsing national currency, the chaos in the education sector, the tribalism in public service and the return of mega corruption,” said the coalition in a joint statement.

ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya told Nation that going back to the streets is one of the many options on the table.

 He said the coalition would take necessary action based on the development in court on some of the issues. The coalition said its next course of action would also be informed by the pending debate on NADCO report in both the National Assembly and the Senate.

The statement added; “Subsequently, we demand that Kenya Kwanza must keep its hands off the Judiciary. We take note of the support expressed by the US government for the Ruto regime to appeal the ruling on the deployment of police to Haiti. It is our hope that all parties shall respect the independence of the Judiciary.”