Inside Politics

I‘ve had enough, Ruto tells Raila on series of demos

Thursday, March 16th, 2023 06:30 | By
Ruto and Raila at a past function. Photo/courtesy

President William Ruto yesterday issued a stern warning to Azimio leader Raila Odinga over the nationwide demonstrations planned for Monday, saying he will not allow Raila to hold the country to ransom.

Speaking at State House, Nairobi, the President warned that Raila was not above the law, and that he will not be allowed to operate outside the Constitution and established laws. “We are a nation because we have decided to submit ourselves to the Constitution and to the laws that govern our country,” President Ruto said and warned that there would be no two sets of laws; one for Kenyans and one for Raila.

“Enough is enough and you cannot continue to blackmail the country,” the President said in what was clearly an escalation of the political rivalry between the two allies-turned-rivals who have planned rallies in Nairobi and Kisii in the coming week.

While Raila has asked his supporters to congregate in Nairobi on Monday, Ruto will be in Kisii on Thursday for a prayer rally and homecoming celebrations for Education Secretary Ezekiel Machogu.

In a hard-hitting statement, President Ruto told Kenyans they had nothing to worry over threats by Azimio la Umoja leaders to hold countrywide demonstrations. Saying Kenyans have a right to protest peacefully and within the law, Ruto urged Raila to work with the police over the planned demonstration.

“Raila has been holding bloody and chaotic demonstrations for the last 50 years; he needs to assure Kenyans that this will be different. This is why we have told Raila to sit down with police and explain to them how the demonstrations will be peaceful,” he said at a meeting with leaders from Trans Nzoia county.

Governor George Natembeya, an Azimio leader who was among those at the meeting, echoed the President’s sentiments, saying there was no room for demonstrations in his county.  “Government will not allow loss of life, destruction of property and looting. We will not allow a few individuals who have refused to accept election results to cause chaos among peace loving people,” said President Ruto.

He also criticised his rival, whom he defeated in the August presidential election, for insisting that a whistleblower inside the electoral commission was the credible source of election results. He said there was no a way a “ghost” could declare who won the presidential election and who lost.

“This whistle blower… does not have a name, we do not know what they look like or who employed the whistle blower… that the ‘ghost’ will decide on Kenya’s elections and if we do not agree with the ‘ghost’, Raila will cause chaos,” said Ruto.

According to the electoral commission, Ruto garnered 7.1 million votes against Raila’s 6.9 million, an outcome that Raila rejected.

Series of rallies

He has since embarked on a series of rallies demanding that the electoral commission open its results servers and declare him winner. Today, Raila is expected to hold a rally in Nakuru as part of preparations for the protests he has called for Monday, which he “declared” a public holiday.

Yesterday, however, the Head of State was categorical that the country will not submit to Raila’s threats and blackmail. “While the rest of Kenyans abide and respect the Constitution and faithfully submit to it, Ruto said.

He added: “I want to tell my elder brother Raila that we cannot have two sets of laws. It is not possible. We have one Constitution established by the people, laws passed by the representatives of the people in Parliament. You cannot tell us that you have another set of laws that you make in your mind and pass in your thoughts and want to tell us you are above the law.”

Whereas Ruto said he had no problem with demonstrations, he said Raila had a responsibility to work with the police to make sure the rest of Kenyans lives are not disrupted, their property was not destroyed, their businesses are not affected and they can go to work despite the protests. Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua commended leaders for distancing themselves from the demonstrations.

“Why didn’t Raila demonstrate when the cost of fertiliser was Sh7,000 and unga prices were at Sh250?” Gachagua asked.

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi also hit out at Raila.

 “We are in a country that is anchored by the rule of law. It is wrong for anyone to declare a public holiday in disregard to the rule of law,” he said.

Their remarks came just a day after Raila declared Monday next week a public holiday to enable like-minded Kenyans join him in what he described as “the march to State House”.  “It (the alleged public holiday) will allow our supporters who would normally go to work to join us in the rally,” Raila said.

Already, protests have started in Kisumu.

Yesterday, Communications Authority of Kenya Director General Ezra Chiloba had to flee for safety after a group of protesters stormed a meeting in which he was one of the guests.

Chiloba was officiating at the World Consumers Rights Day at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports Complex when the venue was raided by youths taking part in anti-government protests against the high cost of living. Chiloba and a host of other leaders left after security deteriorated. Some of the protesters sat on panelists’ chairs while others carried away seats and cameras that were in the VIP section.

“You cannot come to Kisumu to celebrate while we are mourning. This event will not go on,” a demonstrator shouted.

Rowdy protestors

The rowdy protestors then stormed the catering area and ate all the food as organisers and their guests fled amid chaotic scenes of destruction.

“You people cannot be here feeling good when we go hungry,” one demonstrator chanted. Organisers hurriedly moved to close exhibition shops afraid that their products would be looted.

Consequently, the event ended in disarray as attendees folded their belongings and packed ready to leave. Later, a larger group poured onto the streets to take part in anti-government protests.

The protests had began in Kondele through Central Business District and towards the Kisumu State Lodge. Carrying placards, twigs and sufurias, the protestors danced and sang as police stood guard next to the Kisumu State Lodge.

The demos were led by Kisumu deputy governor Mathews Owili, Kisumu Central MP Joshua Oron and Assembly Speaker Elisha Oraro. A host of MCAs and ODM party officials were also in attendance.

In Migori, the demonstrations to push for electoral and economic reforms were called off until tomorrow.

Governor Ochillo Ayacko said the demonstrations were postponed to allow the ongoing Lake Region Economic Bloc summit to continue.

 Reporting by Irene Githinji,

Noven Owiti and Kepher Otieno

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