Nairobi — Azimio leader Raila Odinga ordered a mass march to Nairobi’s Central Park on Friday in renewed agitation against President William Ruto’s presidency.
Odinga who has refused to acknowledge Ruto’s presidency despite the Supreme Court dismissing his challenge in September 2022 asked his supporters to “directly exercise power” terming President Ruto’s mandate as “illegal”.
“We are saying today that the time for discussions is over. Our constitution in Chapter One, says power is in the hands of the people. And they can exercise that power anytime,” he told his supporters at a rally in Nairobi’s Kamukunji grounds.
Hundreds of Azimio supporters gathered at Kamukunji as Odinga readied for a fresh round of anti-government protests weeks after his troops ditched bipartisan talks in Parliament.
Addressing his supporters on Friday, Odinga who has lost a significant number of Azimio lawmakers to Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza side said Parliament had betrayed Kenyans.
“Kenyans elected leaders to Parliament and they have betrayed them. Ruto himself who took over power illegally has betrayed Kenyans.”
The opposition chief said the protests were in response to the high cost of living and what he termed as “punitive taxes” imposed by President Ruto’s administration.
Undeterred by the early morning cold and early morning showers, the supporters voiced their dissatisfaction with the state of the economy and the tax measures enforced by President Ruto’s government under the Finance Act 2023.
Some chanted “tumechoka!” (we’re tired!) as they blew whistles displaying coordinated messages sanctioned by the Odinga-led opposition alliance.
Azimio Coalition had called for “Saba Saba” protests on July 7 to coincide with a day historically associated with the struggle for a multiparty democracy in Kenya.
“I am here today because I am unemployed and unable to afford my children’s school fees and proper meals,” a protester identified as Achieng told Capital News.
Others raised placards cautioning President Ruto against interfering with Opposition Chief Odinga’s role in holding the government accountable.
One such placard read, “Ruto usitishie Raila” (Ruto, do not threaten Raila), referencing past statements where the Head of State had warned Odinga against engaging in protests.
Some demonstrators expressed their discontent with opposition lawmakers who switched sides to join President Ruto’s camp.
They regarded the maneuvers as selfish and a betrayal of the electorate.
“I am a resident of Lang’ata, and I am deeply disappointed that my Member of Parliament, Felix Odiwour, is now supporting the United Democratic Alliance instead of advocating for my welfare,” a frustrated supporter said.