NAIROBI, Kenya- (African Boulevard News) – Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has announced the resumption of anti-government rallies from May 2nd, nearly three weeks after suspending the protests to engage in a dialogue with authorities. Odinga, who finished second in last year’s presidential vote, had organized bi-weekly demonstrations on Mondays and Thursdays dubbed ‘Maandamano’ since March, accusing President William Ruto of rigging his way to victory and of being unable to curb soaring prices.
Limited to Nairobi
Dennis Onyango, spokesman for Raila Odinga, announced the resumption of the rallies, stating that the demonstrations will be limited to Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. However, Onyango did not elaborate further on the reasons for the renewed protests.
In March, Raila Odinga, 78, organized several anti-cost of living rallies, but the police banned these rallies since they allegedly caused more harm than good. Three people, including a police officer, died during the protests, which were also marked by looting and vandalism. The demonstrators were killed by police fire in Kisumu, western Kenya, an opposition stronghold, according to initial reports. The institution responsible for overseeing law enforcement has announced an investigation.
Dialogue with the Government
Raila Odinga had suspended the rallies in early April to participate in a dialogue with the government. According to the Kenyan president, who had called on the population to respect the rule of law, a bipartisan parliamentary committee was to explore the possibility of revising the electoral code. However, the head of state ruled out any alliance with his rival.
Mr. Odinga welcomed the “olive branch” presented by Mr. Ruto, but warned that protests could resume if there was no progress. Kenya is undergoing economic turmoil, with many Kenyans struggling to feed themselves on a daily basis. The country is faced with inflation, depreciation of the Kenyan shilling, and an unprecedented drought in some parts of the country.
The international community and religious leaders have called for calm, fearing that the situation could degenerate into ethnic violence such as that seen after the 2007-08 elections, which left more than 1,100 people dead. The Media Council of Kenya, which defends the rights of the press in this East African country, recorded “25 cases of attacks on local and foreign journalists” working for “state and non-state actors” during the demonstrations. The situation is sensitive, and Kenyans are hoping for a peaceful solution.
Raila Odinga is still contesting the results of the August 9, 2022, presidential election, despite the Supreme Court’s rejection of his appeal. Odinga has been in Kenya’s political scene for decades and is a former Prime Minister.
The resumption of anti-government rallies by Raila Odinga has sparked mixed reactions from Kenyans. Some are in support of the protests, while others feel that the move is unnecessary and may escalate into violence. Kenya is a democratic country, and the right to protest is enshrined in the constitution. As such, it is essential to exercise that right peacefully and responsibly. The Kenyan government has an obligation to listen to the grievances of its citizens and find solutions to the problems facing the country. On the other hand, the opposition has a responsibility to ensure that their actions do not cause harm to the public. In conclusion, Kenyans are hoping that the dialogue between the government and the opposition will yield a peaceful solution to the current political and economic challenges facing the country.