President William Ruto has played down Azimio leader Raila Odinga’s assertion that Kenya’s economy is on its knees.
Speaking to German international news organisation Deutsche Welle (DW), the president said the grounds on which Odinga is holding protests in Kenya are unjustifiable.
At the heart of Azimio’s grievances, is the high cost of living, which the coalition accuses President William Ruto of refusing to address.
Odinga has, in the recent past, said that Ruto’s economic policies and increased taxation have pushed up the cost of living beyond reach for many Kenyans.
The Head of State disagrees. “There are no taxes imposed that are punitive. Actually, we have stabilised the economy. Kenyans can now access the international markets that we could not access when we took over [from President Uhuru Kenyatta] six months ago because of [heavy] debts.”
To address the food scarcity issue, which he acknowledged was affecting many Kenyans, Ruto said his government opened up duty-free importation window to allow importers ship in food commodities at low costs.
“This (duty-free importation) will help lower the cost of living. Our farmers have also been given fertilisers, and we are investing in the long-term irrigation which will help us have food, even during the dry season,” he said.
Asked on what he thinks is the bone of contention by the Azimio side, the Head of State said Odinga was bitter for losing against him in the August 9, 2022 presidential election.
“The riots in Nairobi are not so much about the cost of living, but more about election results, which is actually a settled matter. My competitors are trying to take advantage of the current crisis [high cost of living] to satisfy their political needs,” said Ruto.
The president, who returned to Kenya on Thursday, March 30, was on a four-day tour of Germany and Belgium.
He jetted back on a day the Azimio team had called for continued protests.
Azimio also claims that the August 9, 2022 presidential election was marred with irregularities that ended up favouring President Ruto. Odinga was Ruto’s main challenger in the election.
Odinga also wants the membership of the IEBC selection panel be reviewed to allow the opposition have notable say in the people who pick the next commissioners of the electoral agency.
At the same time, Odinga wants the Azimio team be granted access to the data that was sent to the electronic voter system, which ended up tabulating the number of votes garnered by each of the four presidential candidates in the 2022 presidential polls.
President Ruto has maintained that he won the election fair and square, and that Odinga had the opportunity to challenge his win at Kenya’s Supreme Court.