Raila’s game plan in battle over 2022 poll

Azimio leader Raila Odinga

Azimio leader Raila Odinga. Mr Odinga is plotting a gradual escalation of the resistance against President William Ruto, which could ultimately snowball into a call to his supporters to express civil disobedience and mass action. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Opposition leader Raila Odinga is plotting a gradual escalation of the resistance against President William Ruto, which could ultimately snowball into a call to his supporters to express civil disobedience and mass action. 

The strategy is for the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition to gradually pile pressure on Dr Ruto’s administration to force it to negotiate electoral reforms, particularly the recruitment of new electoral commissioners and to shelve new tax plans it says will hurt Kenyans.

Interviews with various coalition leaders yesterday on Mr Odinga’s end game revealed a plan by the opposition designed to paralyse the operations of government and compel the international community to intervene to broker a compromise.

The next rally planned at Jacaranda grounds in Embakasi East constituency, Nairobi, on Sunday, will lead to a series of meetings across the country by the opposition coalition that is also seeking to exploit the apparent displeasure with some of the policies by the new administration. 

Series of rallies

Azimio National Coalition Executive Council (NCEC) chairman Wycliffe Oparanya yesterday revealed that a series of rallies have been planned to push the government to cede to their demands that include an independent scrutiny of poll servers following fresh claims that Mr Odinga won the presidential vote.

Mr Oparanya said the Kenya Kwanza government has no option but to remove the punitive taxes, tame the runaway cost of living and involve the opposition in the appointment of new commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commissioners (IEBC). 

“A government is supposed to look at the welfare of the people and it is not in any business to say that it wants to make profits. Even if you collected all the taxes and distributed the money to the poor, nobody will question you for that because that’s why the government is in place for the welfare of the people,” Mr Oparanya told the Nation.

The former Kakamega governor said it was wrong for Dr Ruto to yield to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressure to remove subsidies on basic commodities, including food, electricity and petroleum that had been put in place by his predecessor, Uhuru Kenyatta.

Mass action

Apart from the rallies, Mr Odinga’s team is working on elaborate measures to push their demands, including a call for mass action, mulling a boycott of certain products associated with “suspects of the 2022 election fraud,” calling on supporters to avoid paying taxes to the national government and pushing for the intervention of the international community.

Azimio leader Raila Odinga with Wiper chief Kalonzo Musyoka

Azimio leader Raila Odinga with Wiper chief Kalonzo Musyoka during a rally at Kamukunji grounds on January 23, 2023.

Photo credit: Diana Ngila | Nation Media Group

“This is not a joke and Mzee (Mr Odinga) is very serious about it. The protests will be there because the law allows that, if that’s the language they will understand. We are even going to tell people not to pay taxes,” Mr Oparanya said.

Another source within the coalition revealed that Azimio has planned a two-day retreat in February to finalise how it plans to deal with the Ruto regime.

President Ruto on Monday vowed not to yield to the blackmail by Mr Odinga, whom he accused of stoking a political crisis under the guise of championing public interest to extort concessions from the government to advance family business interests.

“Hii maadamano yote wanafanya hawafanyi juu ya wananchi, wanafanya juu ya ubinafsi, familia zao na biashara zao (These protests are not in the public interest, but intended to advance selfish business interests),” the President said. 

“I want to tell them to forget about a handshake, and don’t tell us you do not want a handshake. We know you and we can see you,’’ Dr Ruto said alluding to the truce Mr Odinga struck in 2018 with then-President Kenyatta following the disputed 2017 elections. 

But Mr Odinga on Monday declared that he was not interested in any form of handshake with Dr Ruto
Mr Odinga had urged coalition governors to work with the national government for the sake of development in their regions, but the new declaration not to recognise the Ruto administration has complicated matters.

Some MPs from the Nyanza region had also revealed that the ODM leader urged them to welcome President Ruto during his recent visit.

Azimio warning

On Tuesday, National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi sounded a warning to Azimio legislators going contrary to the Monday declarations at the Kamukunji grounds, noting that it reflected Mr Odinga’s final position and all members of the coalition must heed it until a new order is issued.

“To those embracing Ruto and his administration on grounds that Mzee (Mr Odinga) has spoken to that, when did Mzee speak? I’m not privy to any such directive and if it was actually given I would be aware. The directive is quite clear as issued yesterday (Monday),” Mr Wandayi said.

An ODM official revealed that the coalition will speedily crack the whip on members embracing Dr Ruto contrary to the joint decision made on Monday.

Former Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, a member of the Democratic Action Party Kenya (DAP-K) which is a constituent party of the Azimio coalition, said Mr Odinga has already announced the beginning of the struggle. 

“The fight for the heart and soul of our nation begins and we back Raila’s declarations and we shall not be threatened by anybody,” Mr Wamalwa declared.

Political analyst and Multimedia University lecturer Prof Gitile Naituli says that Azimio seems ready to “use the arrows on its quiver” to push the government to heed to its demands”.

For Prof Macharia Munene of the United States International University (USIU) and political analyst Dismas Mokua, Mr Odinga is simply gearing up for 2027 and wants to keep his bases intact.


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