By Atanas Walila, Nairobi.
Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga has announced the start of countrywide protests to compel the government to lower the cost of living by reducing prices of basic food commodities.
The move is aimed at forcing President William Ruto to comply with their demands or quit the office. This is after the 14 days ultimatum Raila gave Ruto expired.
Speaking at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation while launching the Movement for Defence of Democracy (MDD), the Azimio leader said that runaway inflation and corruption was the reason why the cost of living was unbearable.
“The high cost of living has been caused by blatant looting of public resources and wrong withdrawal of subsidies for basic commodities such as food, fuel and education in the country,” Raila said
He accused Ruto of behaving like a dictator by wanting to usurp powers of independent commissions thus compromising their independence.
Raila demanded that Ruto should allow the opening of the 2022 presidential election servers for the truth to prevail, saying that Ruto’s win was illegitimate.
The Azimio La Umoja leader outlined that President Ruto’s decision to import Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) foods such as maize was to disadvantage Kenyan farmers.
He said that the opposition was also opposed on the process the government has employed in the recruitment of new Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners.
“The IEBC Selection Panel is a puppet of Ruto, and we do not have any faith in whatever they are doing,” Raila claimed.
Former prime minister came to the defence of four commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), who disagreed with Chebukati on the August 2022 General Election.
He finished by calling on Kenyans to come out in numbers on the stated date towards the national demonstration in Nairobi.
“On March 20, 2023, we have a date with destiny, and we call on you all to come to Nairobi where we will conduct a major peaceful protest and civil disobedience,” Raila declared.
Speaking at Orange House, ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna accused Kenya Kwanza government for false promises and taking Kenyans around circles.
“We have shared a concern that Kenyans are being lied to and taken around in circles particularly in the issue of the economic recovery,” adding that Azimio will continue with public barazas to compel Ruto to heed to their demands.
The Azimio coalition referred to the former President Mwai Kibaki who faced a similar situation when he took power in 2002 and succeeded by putting in place proper measures that curbed runaway inflation and streamlined the recovery of the economy through lowering of taxes.
“When NARC took power in December 2002, the economy was at its lowest. NARC did not set about writing a book of lamentations about how bad the situation was. NARC did not set about telling people how bad the situation was,” said Sifuna
He added: “The people were already feeling the situation. Instead, the new regime set about programs to ensure that the people started benefiting from their electoral victory,”
The opposition accuses President Ruto for keeping on reminding Kenyans how bad the economy was when they took power, instead of providing solutions to revive the economy as Kenyans would expect.
Azimio la Umoja leadership says that Kibaki did not resort to blame his predecessor like President Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua are doing.
“Within months of coming to power, the NARC Govt presented the country with a result-based programme of priority government actions designed to meet the medium-term objectives of the Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation,” said Sifuna
They also wanted answers to when Kenya Kwanza government is going to deliver promises they gave Kenyans in their manifesto.
“In the beginning, Kenyans were told costs would come down as soon as Ruto put the Bible down after being sworn in. The prices refused to come down. Kenyans were told fertilizers had been brought. Still prices refused to come down,” the statement read in part.
It continued: “We want answers and if they do not come in the next few days, we will have no option but to lead our supporters into these offices for answers. We will follow these officers anywhere and everywhere for answers and not warnings,”