Ruto fortifies security around State House Nairobi, Kisumu as Raila ultimatum lapses
Security officers have been deployed to areas surrounding State House in Nairobi and Kisumu in what seems to be a precaution against likely protests on Thursday by the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition.
In Nairobi, at least two security officers were sent to guard roadblocks erected on several routes, including State House Road and the route between Kenya Comfort Suites and Ralph Bunche Road.
Another team of two was stationed at State House Gate C, which is often left unguarded, to control traffic.
Another roadblock was erected on Processional Way, with a police car strategically placed at the junction with State House Road. Yet another blockade was at Crawford Business Park and Statehouse Girls, with six officers guarding it.
In Kisumu, police cordoned off the road leading to State Lodge. Jomo Kenyatta highway was blocked from the wee hours of Wednesday morning as motorists were forced to use alternative routes.
Only those who were designated to the neighbouring address were allowed to pass but after undergoing a through search and scrutiny by the officers who mounted barricades on the entrances leading to the protected area.
Some residents were however forced to walk some distance after boda boda operators were blocked from proceeding further.
"I hope this is a short term measure that will not inconvenience us," said Lorna Achieng, a resident.
The securing of the routes follow the near expiry of a 14-day ultimatum issued by Azimio leader Raila Odinga, with demands to President William Ruto to, among others, open election servers, lower the cost of living and call off the reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC)
Kisumu being one of the strongholds of Mr Odinga, security officers are not taking anything to chance and moved fast to enhance security in one of the country's most protected premises.
Mr Odinga is however expected to make public his next cause of action after President Ruto failed to address his concerns.
On February 22, while attending a prayer rally at Jeevanjee Gardens, Odinga threatened mass action if taxes currently imposed on products will not be lowered.
During a rally, he said that the country has been largely affected by drought, exacerbated by withdrawal of subsidies and high cost of living.
“Withdrawal of subsidies to food and education in the middle of drought and famine was reckless and heartless. Consequently, the subsidies must be restored, and the cost of basic commodities and taxes must come down in the next 14 days,” said Odinga during the rally.
“Servers must be opened and audited. under the auspices of a reputable firm or organisation, failure to which we shall lead people to restore their authority and voice. If these demands are not heeded within 14 days, we shall lead Kenyans to massive mass action across the country to take their power back and restore sanity,” said Odinga.
By engaging in mass action, Odinga assured his followers that it would” bring back power to the people.”
Four days after the issue of ultimatum, President Ruto and his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua dismissed the threat, saying they will not be derailed in the journey to development.
A few hours ago, Kakamega Deputy Governor Ayub Savula expressed his disagreement over the planned mass action, equating it to attack on a legitimate government.
He further told Odinga not to expect Azimio Governors and their deputies to join the protests, saying that members of parliament and senators, who oversight the government, are best placed to attend the protests.