I won't be intimidated to call off protests, Kenya's Odinga says

Opposition Leader Raila Odinga Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga

Fri, 17 Mar 2023 Source: theeastafrican.co.ke

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has maintained that he will not be intimidated to call off the countrywide protests slated for Monday.

Mr Odinga, who addressed supporters in Nakuru City on Thursday, said the planned protests would be peaceful.

While referring to his run-ins with former President Daniel Moi’s regime, Mr Odinga maintained that he will not be cowed by veiled threats from President William Ruto and other government officials.

“We cannot be intimidated by William Ruto and [Deputy President] Rigathi Gachagua. I want to tell them that I fought for the second liberation in this country. The two cannot understand what I have gone through. I was arrested, charged in court and went to prison in 1983 but was discharged for lack of evidence. I have been fighting for democracy and was put in detention for eight years when some of them were still breastfeeding,” Mr Odinga said.

“The lion (Moi) was dreaded but we uprooted its teeth. I am ready and prepared to pay the ultimate price while fighting for the liberation of Kenya,” added Mr Odinga amid cheers from the charged crowd.

Mother of all protests

While declaring the March 20 demonstrations the “mother of all protests” expected to bring the country to a standstill, Mr Odinga listed six reasons to justify it. These are refusal by President Ruto to allow the audit of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) servers, high cost of living after the government eliminated subsidies, nepotism in the Kenya administration, failing to consult other stakeholders in the reconstitution of IEBC, broken promises and an illegitimate government.

The rally was Mr Odinga’s first public meeting in Nakuru since losing to President Ruto in last year’s elections.

At the same time, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, the Wiper party leader, maintained that Monday’s protests will be peaceful and warned foreign countries against interfering with Kenya’s affairs.

“Our march will be peaceful and will not target anyone. Whoever will bring violence is not part of us. We will demonstrate until William Ruto leaves the State House,” said Mr Musyoka.

“We know they have plans to use a few of their supporters to loot shops and blame it on Azimio (opposition coalation), but l want to tell them that we shall be very disciplined. The constitution gives us enough freedom,” added Mr Musyoka.

2022 presidential elections

Both Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka maintained that the Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition won the 2022 presidential elections.

“I was with Raila Odinga in 2013 when our votes were stolen and we accepted the court’s decision. It happened in 2017, but Uhuru put the country first and brought in Raila. But for what happened in 2022 we shall not allow it,” stated Mr Musyoka.

Political pundits say Mr Odinga used Thursday’s rally in Nakuru City to test the waters in Ruto's turfs ahead of the Monday protest.

On Friday, Mr Odinga will hold a rally in Kiambu County in central Kenya as he builds momentum for the protests.

Source: theeastafrican.co.ke