Raila to start countrywide rallies on high cost of living

Azimio leader Raila Odinga at Maanzoni Lodge in Machakos County

Azimio leader Raila Odinga at Maanzoni Lodge in Machakos County for the Azimio One-Kenya Coalition Parliamentary Group meeting on February 9, 2023.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga is set to escalate his political battle with President William Ruto on the cost of living, even as he asked his MPs to reject unconstitutional Bills that will be taken to Parliament next week.

Mr Odinga is from next month expected to start countrywide rallies beginning in Nairobi over the high cost of living, high taxes and the tough economic times after he concludes the ongoing public engagements.

“We are therefore to consolidate our resolve to fight for the people of Kenya. We have a choice that we have to make going into the coming weeks and months,” Mr Odinga said.

While addressing a coalition Parliamentary Group meeting attended by 123 lawmakers at Maanzoni Lodge yesterday, Mr Odinga maintained that he does not recognise Ruto as the President.

“We believe that social and economic justice goes hand in hand with the struggle for electoral justice. Illegitimate regimes don’t care about the people,” he said.

Mr Odinga said the coalition will continue with its public engagements through which it will sensitise Kenyans on their political rights and victory that was stolen in the August elections.

“The public engagements will not go on for long, but we have a duty to teach our people about their democratic rights because they are ruled by a regime that never won the elections,” Mr Odinga said.

Series of rallies

Today, the Azimio team will be in Machakos, then Busia on Sunday before heading to Kisii on Monday. Sources within Azimio said the public meetings are likely to be concluded in the coastal region later this month before Mr Odinga returns to Nairobi to start countrywide protests over the high cost of living.

“Kenyans deserve a government that understands that people are hungry and angry, that people need jobs, that people need wage increases to be able to live with dignity, that people need better prospects for the future,” Mr Odinga said.

Mr Odinga told Azimio MPs to remain steadfast ahead of the reopening of Parliament and reject any unconstitutional Bills. In particular, he criticised President Ruto for initiating the Bill to create the Office of Leader of Opposition by writing to National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula.

Azimio leaders

Azimio leader Raila Odinga accompanied by Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi, Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni, Minority Whip Junet Mohamed and Narok Senator Ledama Olekina at Maanzoni lodge in Machakos County for the Azimio One-Kenya Coalition Parliamentary Group meeting on February 9, 2023. 

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

“The President or speaker cannot initiate any legislative agenda. If they want to create that office, then it has to be discussed in the Cabinet and a memorandum sent to the Attorney-General before it is forwarded to the Leader of Majority for onward introduction in the House,” Mr Odinga said.

“This law being initiated by the speaker and the President is null and void and our members must be vigilant to reject such laws,” Mr Odinga said.

Constitutional amendment

President Ruto wrote to Parliament in December calling for an amendment of the constitution to establish the opposition leader’s office as part of enhancing oversight of his administration.

The Azimio leader also took a swipe at coalition MPs who met with the President terming them traitors.

“The days when MPs used to visit the President and kneel down for development are long gone as money for development is being appropriated in Parliament by the MPs themselves,” Mr Odinga said, adding that any coalition MP who wants to meet the President must get express permission from him.

The former Prime Minister maintained that he won the August poll and called on the African Union to independently do a forensic analysis of the electoral commission’s server in order to give Kenyans the truth about who won the August poll.

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka said the country is headed in the wrong direction and urged MPs to stand up and protect the constitution.

“We will not allow President Ruto to cannibalise our democracy and constitution,” Mr Musyoka said. “We have work to do and that is to salvage our democracy. Be there to ensure that our country is safe for future generations.” 

Jubilee Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni castigated his party’s MPs who met the President on Wednesday saying the visit was not sanctioned by party leader former President Uhuru Kenyatta. He added that Jubilee is still in Azimio and those who visited State House did so for personal gain.

“Any cohabitation, dining and visit to State House looking for a photo op with an illegitimate regime is illegal ... Just because some people did not get some seats in parliament should not be a reason for exiting Azimio,” he said.

The coalition is today expected to come up with a number of resolutions from the meeting before proceeding to a rally in Machakos.