Defence Cabinet Secretary (CS) Aden Duale during the handing over ceremony at the Department of Defence Headquarters in Nairobi on October 31, 2022. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Defence Cabinet Secretary (CS) Aden Duale has broken his silence on the ongoing Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya weekly demonstrations.

Duale says the protests are motivated by selfish interests of Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga, allegations that the former prime minister previously denied.

Speaking on Spice FM on Friday, March 31, CS Duale said: "Odinga should come out clean on what he really wants. The protests are fuelled by his selfish desire to get into government and eventually render Ruto powerless."

The minister suggested that the 2007/2008 post-election script was playing out, claiming Odinga coerced the then-president Mwai Kibaki into talks that eventually led to the grand coalition government.

Duale further stated that it would be difficult for Odinga to benefit from the same script this time around because of the strong institutions that Kenya has.

Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya leaders are holding weekly protests - on Mondays and Thursdays - to push President William Ruto's administration to lower the cost of living, among other issues.

Duale says the cost of living grievance is not unique to Kenya as other countries too are bearing the brunt, owing to global challenges such as the war in Ukraine, inflation and climate change.

"The high cost of living is as a result of factors outside the boundaries of Kenya," he said.

Duale said reintroduction of subsidies on fuel and food commodities such as maize flour is not the immediate solution to the cost of living challenges that Kenyans are facing.

"The subsidies were in place during President Uhuru Kenyatta's reign, but the cost of living was still high," said the Defence CS.

He added: "Those subsidies were not meant for the common man and that is why the prices did not reduce [despite the relief measures]."

Duale said Azimio's demands to the current administration "are contradicting each other".

"They should decide whether the president should address the cost of living issues, or he should go as they claim. [The two demands cannot be met simultaneously]," said Duale.

Just like Majority Leader in the National Assembly Kimani Ichung'wah believes, Duale says Raila Odinga has "held Kenya to ransom for a long period now".

He said that it was about time the government "stopped the unending blackmail".

The minister further claimed that Odinga was getting funding for the protests from third parties, particularly a powerful family in Kenya.

Odinga, in his protest addresses, claims President Ruto manipulated the August 9, 2022 presidential election outcome, and is, therefore, in office "unprocedurally".

He wants the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to grant the Azimio team access to the electronic voter transmission data.

On Kenya's role in DRC peacekeeping, Defence CS Duale said it was agreed upon at the East African Heads of State summit that Kenya should take a lead role in reestablishing order, particularly in eastern DRC, which is largely under the control of M23 rebels.