Kenyan Opposition to Resume Protests Alongside Talks

Kenyan Opposition to Resume Protests Alongside Talks (News Central TV)
FILE – Protesters run towards riot police during a mass rally called by the opposition leader Raila Odinga over the high cost of living, in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya on March 27, 2023. Kenya’s opposition announced Thursday, April 13, 2023 that anti-government protests will resume after the holy month of Ramadan despite an agreement on talks with the ruling party. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga, File)

According to opposition leader Raila Odinga, Kenya’s opposition alliance is willing to negotiate with the government regarding electoral changes and the country’s high cost of living while also restarting protests.

Following a request from President William Ruto in early April, Odinga put a halt to anti-government demonstrations, but he also threatened to resume them in a few days if the government did not engage or respond meaningfully.

Three marches, held over a two-week period in late March and early April, drew thousands of participants. Violence plagued each protest, which were sparked in part by claims of fraud in the presidential election in August.

“Kenyans are standing firm. We have agreed, the talks proceed, but I agree with the recommendation that has come out of here today that talks will proceed and protests will run parallel,” Odinga told a town-hall style meeting in the capital Nairobi.

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“We will continue. We are waiting for Ramadan to end. Once it ends, we will make an announcement for the protests,” he said, referring to the holy Muslim fasting month.

The Kenya Kwanza coalition of Ruto and the Azimio La Umoja alliance of Odinga differ over the details of the talks’ agenda and who should lead them.

Azimio contends that MPs and those outside of parliament should explore strategies to lower living expenses and evaluate the 2022 elections in addition to choosing senior electoral board officials.

Kenya Kwanza wants to restrict the discussion’s focus to the choice of electoral officials and to legislators alone.

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Odinga’s actions, according to Kimani Ichung’wah, the majority leader in parliament and a member of Ruto’s party, were intended to put pressure on the administration and gain a stake in it.

He had stated that he had no interest in playing any role in the current administration.

“Raila [Odinga] has never had an interest in any peaceful process and [this] is no surprise,” Ichung’wah said in a text message to Reuters. “All their actions should therefore be viewed as actions done in bad faith and very insincere.”

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