Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga has mooted a series of anti-government drives to be launched on December 7, and which could lead to a parallel Jamhuri Day celebration on December 12 as a vote of no confidence against President William Ruto’s administration.
Mr Odinga and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka yesterday chaired a coalition Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting in Nairobi, where the decision to launch anti-government pushbacks was endorsed.
Multiple sources at the meeting held at the SKM (Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka) centre in Karen, Nairobi, told the Nation that the PG discussed the possibility of holding a parallel national celebration on December 12, after the launch of the drive on December 7.
“The matter (of a parallel event) was indeed discussed as a follow-up to the December 7 event, but the leadership agreed to examine it and make a decision,” said a source that was at the Karen meeting.
Another source said: “Some leaders were, however, of the opinion that Jamhuri Day is an important national event that ought not to be destabilised.”
Should Mr Odinga agree to hold a parallel Jamhuri Day event, it will not be the first time. On October 20, 2017, he hosted parallel Mashujaa Day celebrations in Kisumu at a prayer service for victims of police brutality.
The opposition is accusing President Ruto’s administration of orchestrating a witch-hunt against the four commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that disowned the results of the presidential election. They are vice-chairperson Juliana Cherera and commissioners Justus Nyang’aya, Irene Masit and Francis Wanderi.
The opposition also holds that the decision to import genetically modified (GM) maize by the government, insecurity across the country and the high cost of living, are enough to mobilise the public to stop the government’s excesses.
“We are meeting against the background of the continuing rise in the cost of basic commodities, plans by the government to introduce GM maize and seeds into our country and a determination by the Kenya Kwisha administration to create an electoral body in Ruto’s own image and after his liking. That push to reorganise the IEBC is camouflaged as a trial of the four IEBC commissioners,” the coalition said in a statement read by National Assembly Minority leader Opiyo Wandayi.
An earlier plan to launch the anti-government rallies in Kamukunji, Nairobi, today, was shelved, with the leaders saying the decision was arrived at to allow the smooth running of the ongoing national examinations.
“To this end, we have decided to reschedule the start of our public engagements from tomorrow (today), the 30th of November 2022, to the 7th of December 2022 due to the ongoing national examinations. We have listened to the appeals of parents and our school-going children and we decided to obey their wishes,” says the PG in the statement read by Mr Wandayi.
Mr Odinga had earlier announced plans to hold a series of rallies in his political bases to solicit support for the four besieged IEBC commissioners facing ouster.
The rallies, christened ‘consultative meetings’ with his supporters, he noted, will seek the public’s say in the push by President Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance to send home the four.
He also said the meetings will take place in the wake of the government’s “unpopular policies”, including the importation of GM maize, insecurity across the country and the high cost of living.
Yesterday, the Nation established that apart from the ongoing examinations, the Azimio PG agreed to allow the current process against the IEBC officials to proceed to avoid being prejudicial, even though they termed it “a lynch mob, a hired hit squad and an illegality with a predetermined position”.
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The onslaught against the Ruto government, Mr Odinga holds, will be heightened, in a bid to resist his efforts to create an electoral body “in his own image”.
“That push to reorganise the IEBC is camouflaged as a trial of the four IEBC commissioners,” Mr Wandayi said.
He added: “The PG resolved that the JLAC hearings against the four IEBC commissioners are a lynch mob, a hired hit squad and an illegality with a predetermined position. We don’t recognise it and won’t recognise or honour its findings. Instead, we will fight it to the bitter end in and outside the House.”
Terming the JLAC hearings a “Kangaroo” meeting, the Azimio PG claimed there are plans to table its products on Thursday, December 1, and subsequently a special sitting to sanitise the report to be called on December 7.
“This is how desperate and insensitive the regime is. They are calling a special sitting, not about hunger or drought, insecurity and related issues. Instead, they are focusing on petty political scores and 2027 elections.”
“We appeal to the Kenya Kwisha administration to please focus. Focus on what really matters for Kenyans now, which is the cost of living, and not 2027 elections,” Mr Wandayi read.
He went on: “Our stand remains that the focus on the four commissioners is not about 2022 elections. It is about the 2027 elections, whose rigging the Ruto regime is putting in place in 2022.”
Mr Odinga is reportedly working on an elaborate plan to mobilise Kenyans and pile pressure on the Ruto administration to fulfil its campaign pledges.
Insiders in his camp believe that failure by the President to address the hard economic times, coupled with “unpopular policies” could lead to an uprising and negatively affect his administration.
To stop the Ruto government from burdening Kenyans, they say, the opposition will have no option but to resort to “tax boycott, peaceful non-violent struggle, civil disobedience and other unspecified consequences”.
“He is keen to launch massive rallies at the elapse of Ruto’s first 100 days in office,” a source said.
At the SKM Centre, other sources revealed, the meeting was stormy, with MPs revisiting what they termed as “skewed” committee placements that saw some members allocated only one committee.
“After heated deliberations, it was agreed that another Parliamentary Group is convened next week to put the Azimio House in order so that as the struggle begins, the House is united.”