Ruto to Raila: Demonstrations are not the way to oversight government

President William Ruto during the opening of the East African Community (EAC)- led Nairobi Process, the third peace talk on the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in Nairobi on November 28, 2022.

President William Ruto yesterday rubbished Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga’s plan to organise public meetings and demonstrations in favour of four besieged electoral commissioners.

The plan, President Ruto said, was the wrong way to push for accountability in government, saying there were other ways to keep his Kenya Kwanza alliance government in check.

Mr Odinga – who has called his party’s parliamentary group meeting on the matter today – announced planned rallies in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu and Kakamega to defend Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) members Juliana Cherera, Irene Masit, Justus Nyang’aya and Francis Wanderi, who face a President Ruto-backed ouster.

“We are consolidating our country and I want to tell our brothers in the opposition to work with us, to criticise us, but let’s keep the country peaceful,” Dr Ruto said.
“I don’t think holding demonstrations and asking Kenyans to do whatever they want them to do is part of holding the government accountable.”

He spoke yesterday in Ruiru, Kiambu County, during the launch of a Twiga Foods Limited distribution centre in Tatu City.

Read: Opiyo Wandayi reveals how Azimio will counter Ruto's Kenya Kwanza government

“[The opposition is] to criticise us but street demonstrations should not be part of the script of any responsible opposition,’’ he added.

Dr Ruto celebrated the opening of the distribution centre. It measures 200,000 square feet and will allow the company to expand its capacity, reach out to its domestic and regional customers and suppliers, and boost its profit margins.

The President said the growth and expansion of Twiga Foods is a good model that can be replicated in other counties where local entrepreneurs can be given a favourable working environment, saying this has the potential to create more openings for the youth, especially where emerging establishments are funded by the government to spur growth.

The President also promised to give Twiga Foods a Sh300 million loan for onward lending to its suppliers through the yet-to-be-launched Hustler Fund, seed capital targeting emerging entrepreneurs who want to scale up their businesses.

Azimio PG 

President Ruto comments on Mr Odinga’s plans came as Azimio yesterday called for a parliamentary group (PG) meeting, with the issue of the “Cherera Four” commissioners and the coalition’s way forward said to be one of its main agenda items.

Raila in Kisumu

Azimio leader Raila Odinga addressing the media in Kisumu where he announced plans to hold rallies to solicit support for the four besieged IEBC commissioners. 

Photo credit: Rushdie Oudia | Nation Media Group

The meeting is expected to be addressed by Mr Odinga, Nark Kenya leader Martha Karua and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka.
Mr Odinga yesterday held a closed-door meeting with Azimio House leaders at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation offices in Upper Hill, Nairobi, where a decision to convene the PG meeting to deliberate on key issues touching on Kenyans was reached.

The meeting came just a day after Mr Odinga announced plans to hold a series of rallies in his political bases to solicit support for the four besieged electoral agency commissioners facing ouster.
The rallies, christened ‘consultative meetings’ with his supporters, will start in Nairobi next week, he said. They are intended to give the public a say on the push by President Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza to send the four commissioners home.

But at yesterday’s meeting in Nairobi, the ODM leader did not address journalists, leaving the House leaders, led by National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi, Minority Whip Junet Mohamed and Senate Deputy Minority Whip Ledama Ole Kina, among other officials, to issue a statement.

Mr Wandayi cited the matter of the attempted “forceful” removal from office of the four IEBC commissioners, the decision to import genetically modified maize by the government, insecurity across the country and the high cost of living as the main agenda for today’s PG meeting.

“These are matters that we continue to engage on and therefore as a first practical step we have resolved to convene the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party Parliamentary Group meeting tomorrow (today) November 29, 2022,” Mr Wandayi announced.

"Far-reaching resolutions"

The PG meeting, he said, will come up with far-reaching resolutions.
Moments after the briefing, also attended by ODM executive director Oduor Ong’wen, Prof Makau Mutua and MPs David Pkosing (Pokot South), Timothy Kajwang’ (Ruaraka) and Caleb Amisi (Saboti), Mr Mohamed invited coalition legislators to the “important meeting”.

In his notice, Mr Mohamed said crucial decisions would be made at the PG meeting, with the Nation establishing a resolution on the best ways to deal with Dr Ruto’s administration over its “excesses” will be made.
Mr Odinga last week accused President Ruto of reinstating the Nyayo regime under a different designation, vowing to lead huge pushbacks against his administration.

He said the Ruto administration had captured institutions and was inflicting injustice on members of the public, including the four IEBC commissioners.
"The capture is now being attended to by the two Houses of Parliament. Swiftly, Kenyans are being turned into being passive bystanders in the affairs with grave implications for our unity, stability and governance as a nation," he said.
"Ruto's administration is taking us back to the affairs last witnessed in the last regime of the 1980s. We are here to sound a warning that no one should lie to this regime that we will sit back and watch a return of the Nyayo regime in another name."

Yesterday, Mr Wandayi said today’s PG meeting is expected to deliberate on Mr Odinga’s proposal for countrywide rallies to mobilise Kenyans against President Ruto’s administration.

“We shall discuss the rallies at tomorrow’s meeting and give our roadmap,” he said.
Ruaraka MP Timothy Kajwang’ said: “We are just from an election and wanted to give our people time to rest as we do self-introspection, but the government is hell-bent on being vindictive – [on the issue of the four] IEBC commissioners, those are state officers and it’s wrong to push them to the wall as is the case. 

“So we want to have a common ground on these issues, including the high cost of living.”
His Saboti counterpart Caleb Amisi said today’s meeting will allow MPs to give a way forward on the IEBC issue among other pertinent issues like imports of GMO maize, insecurity and “other things Kenyans are grappling with”.

“On major rallies across the country, the MPs will be expected to add their voice on how it should be executed. The PG have a right to reject, postpone, evaluate and suggest a different approach,” he said.