Raila: We do not recognise Ruto as the President
Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya leader Raila Odinga yesterday vowed not to recognise William Ruto as President of Kenya, claiming he is in office illegally.
Raila also demanded that the Kenya Kwanza government resigns, arguing that it had neither the mandate of the people nor the ability to govern.
In addition, he and other Azimio leaders asked citizens to reject the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) administration. While describing the policies as “unfortunate and unfair”, Raila said they must be resisted and urged his supporters to start the resistance at once.
His sentiments have raised political stakes, setting the stage for what could turn out to be a protracted game of wits between the ruling Kenya Kwanza Alliance — of which UDA is a member — and the Opposition.
Raila becomes the second Azimio leader to declare he would not recognise Ruto’s presidency. He said he did not agree with the electoral commission — which declared Ruto winner of the August election — and the Supreme Court, which upheld the election. Raila said the two institutions had been hijacked by cartels.
Raila spoke just hours after he returned to the country after a short tour of South Africa. From the airport, he went straight to the historic Kamukunji grounds in Nairobi, where he made an eight-point demand, including for the five-month-old administration to resign.
“We as Azimio reject the 2022 election results,” he said. “We cannot and will not recognise the Kenya Kwanza regime and we consider the Kenya Kwanza government illegitimate. We don’t recognise Mr William Ruto as President of Kenya and we equally don’t recognise any officials in the office with him.”
Ten days ago, Ruto embarked on a two-day visit to Nyanza — considered the bedrock of Raila’s political support — and was hosted by governors allied to the Azimio leader. Some of the leaders pledged to work with the government.
Yesterday, however, Raila questioned the legitimacy of the Ruto administration and questioned the votes that the electoral commission used to declare Ruto the winner of the August presidential contest.
The former Prime Minister warned that there would be no elections in 2027 unless the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is cleaned up and citizens are involved in the selection of new commissioners.
He spoke just hours after President Ruto signed into law a Bill that paves the way for the appointment of a panel that will interview candidates interested in being IEBC commissioners. Raila also demanded an audit of last year’s election.
“We demand that the entire infrastructure and records of the 2022 elections at IEBC be made public and be audited by an impartial body. A forensic audit of the IEBC results and servers is non-negotiable,” he said.
But in a quick rejoinder, President Ruto dismissed Raila’s assertions, maintaining that he will not succumb to blackmail and intimidation from the opposition politician (see separate story).
“There is no reason for people to be anxious,” Ruto said, arguing that Kenya Kwanza had a plan on how to respond to Raila’s demands. He spoke at a funeral just hours after signing the IEBC Bill into law, a move that did not sit well with Raila.
“We demand that any attempts to reconstitute the IEBC single-handedly by Ruto cease forthwith so that Kenyans themselves can reconstitute the body after full and fair deliberations,” Raila told the rally.
He also called on Kenyans to reject the taxes levied by the new administration, describing them as “punitive” saying the high taxes had led to rising costs of basic products and services.
But responding to the criticism, Ruto said his administration had brought down the cost of maize flour from Sh210 per packet to Sh180 per packet. He pledged that the cost would drop further over the next six months.
But Raila said: “We reject the empty promises made and being made by the UDA regime. We call on Kenyans to reject the punitive UDA policies that are making life unbearable.”
Raila also dwelt at length on the August presidential election, claiming that the results were rigged to deny him victory.
In rejecting the outcome, Raila claimed that IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati, commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu and the commission CEO Marjan Hussein Marjan formed a cartel within the commission to the exclusion of the four commissioners. According to him, the results that the chairman announced on August 15 last year had nothing to do with the votes cast a week earlier.
Although the Azimio team filed a petition at the Supreme Court to dispute the results, the judges threw out the petition, arguing that the issues in the petition were not substantiated to warrant the nullification of the results. “Since August 15, we have conducted our own investigations of the IEBC and the election results. We are convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that our victory was stolen,” Raila said.
According to him, an IEBC whistleblower had published the true results of the 2022 elections, and that those who examined the data and the forms posted on the whistleblower’s website had confirmed the authenticity of the numbers.
According to the IEBC whistleblowers’ data, Azimio had won the election with a margin of more than two million votes.
Raila said that his team carried the day in its traditional strongholds of Coast, Western, Northern Kenya, Lower Eastern, Nyanza and Nairobi with comfortable, often overwhelming margins, adding that they broke records in the Mount Kenya region where the people of the Mountain voted for them, as they have never done before.
“We know what happened next at the Supreme Court. A compromised court failed to either declare the true victors, annual the elections or order a rerun because of the glaring violations of the law and the Constitution by the IEBC. The Supreme Court itself was captured by the cartels that had also captured the IEBC.”
He also roped in foreign governments, which he claimed had a hand in rigging the elections. He, however, stopped short of naming them.
Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua and Raila’s running mate in the August elections asked Kenyans not to allow their dream to die. “It is still possible for our dreams to come true. We cannot sit down and see our country go down,” she said. “We are here because the elections were not free and fair.”