Ruto, Raila take their battles to the international community

President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga.

President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga. Dr Ruto now wants international and diplomatic missions to censure Mr Odinga over claims of orchestrating violence.

Photo credit: Nation Media Group

The Government now wants international and diplomatic missions to censure Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga over claims of orchestrating violence during opposition protests and planning to overthrow a legitimate administration.

In a letter by the Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, the government faulted Mr Odinga for calling for nationwide protests with a view to storming the State House to oust President Ruto.

“…on or about March 13, 2023, Hon Raila Amolo Odinga, the opposition leader, called for nationwide protests whose central purport included having his supporters march to the seat of Kenya's presidency, State House, oust the constitutionally elected President of the Republic of Kenya, and cause himself installed as president,” states the letter in part.

The Government also accuses Mr Odinga of mobilizing his supporters to execute his intention on Monday, March 20.

“Security officers prevented the demonstrators from accessing the central business district and State House, due to the egregious and highly provocative nature of the demonstration, but also on account of the failure by the organizers to furnish a notification containing specific details about the protest to the police,” the letter adds.

President Ruto’s administration has hence called for the indictment of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader.

“In line with the importance of holding those responsible for any crimes that may be committed under the guise of protests and ensuring no impunity is encouraged, the Government urges the international community to be vigilant in supporting the sanctioning of any conduct adverse to the peace and security of the country.”

However, Azimio in its response to the government petition on Wednesday came out guns blazing, accusing president Ruto’s administration of propagating propaganda against the opposition to justify police brutality against “innocent protestors.”

“The letter, which can only be described as a screed of naked propaganda attempts to justify the police brutality against peaceful demonstrators on Monday and seeks to paint Azimio la Umoja One Kenya as a violent party bent on subversion and chaos. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Mr Odinga’s coalition said in a statement.

The statement further added that: “We recognize the letter as a crude attempt by the Kenya Kwanza illegitimate regime to turn the international community against Azimio La Umoja and its current push to hold Mr William Ruto and his regime accountable.”

“Importantly, Mr Ruto has panicked upon realizing that the world is very concerned that he recklessly, callously, and brutally misused the police to suppress people and prevent them from exercising their constitutional rights. These are crimes for which he bears full responsibility.”

Azimio insists that the claims of orchestrating violent protests were untrue, citing that the demonstrations were legal pursuant to Article 37 of the Kenyan constitution.

“Article 37 of the Constitution of Kenya gives every Kenyan the right to assemble and demonstrate. That, together with Article 1, which provides that all sovereign power is vested in the people, means that Kenyans have the unfettered right to hold the government to account.”

The coalition stated that it had given its notice of the demonstration in advance as per the law, adding that “it is blatantly false for the regime to claim that our demonstration was in any way unlawful.”

Mr Odinga’s Azimio camp also accused the police of initiating and carrying out brutal violence against demonstrators, killing and injuring them.

“It used tear gas and water cannons recklessly on the people. The police shot at the vehicles in which the Rt Hon Raila Odinga and the Hon Kalonzo Musyoka were riding. In both cases, the vehicles were badly damaged and the lives of Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka were put at great risk,” Azimio states in its response.

This is not the conduct of a legitimate democratic government, but that of a brutal dictatorship, the letter adds.

The coalition consequently refuted allegations that Dr Ruto won last year’s election fairly, insisting that the result declared by former Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Mr Wafula Chebukati “was wholly unconstitutional and without merit.”

“Where in the world can an electoral commission composed of seven members declare a result that is disputed by four members, a majority of the commission? How can the verdict of a minority of three trump a majority of four? This is illegal, and unconstitutional on its face. It cannot happen or stand anywhere else in the world.”

“The fact that a compromised Supreme Court ignored overwhelming evidence and essentially gave a stamp of approval to Mr Chebukati's illegalities does not in any way make Mr Ruto the winner of the elections. We know that an IEBC whistleblower subsequently published the legitimate results which showed that Mr Odinga had convincingly won the election.”

In the letter, the opposition also terms as a ticking volcano, the discrimination in the employment of senior state officers, which Azimio notes a majority are from two communities.