Azimio piles pressure on Ruto as coalition takes on 'rebel' MPs

Azimio leader Raila Odinga speaks during the Azimio Public Baraza at Moi Stadium Kisumu. [Michael Mute, Standard]

The Azimio leadership says it will deploy various strategies to keep President William Ruto’s government on toes.

This came as the coalition’s troops, led by ODM leader Raila Odinga, held a rally in Kisumu where they launched scathing attacks on Ruto.

The coalition is also keen to punish ‘rebels’ within its ranks and used the Kisumu rally to call for the punishment of ODM leaders who have shown interest in working with Kenya Kwanza.

If comments of the coalition leaders is anything to go by, then the ‘rebel’ MPs could face backlash at home as a campaign to discredit them intensifies.

The leaders considered rebels by Raila’s allies are MPs Gideon Ochanda (Bondo), Caroli Omondi (Suba South), Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Paul Abuor (Rongo), Mark Nyamita (Uriri) and Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda. At the rally, nearly all the speakers criticised the MPs, claimed they have dug their political graves by opting to court Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza. 

But it was the relentless effort to push President Ruto’s regime into a corner and force through their demands on electoral justice, constitution of a new IEBC, high cost of living as well as reclaiming what they consider their stolen victory that took centre stage yesterday.

Yesterday, the coalition’s message was clear. They will do everything to make the government listen to their demands. They also ruled out any chances of a handshake.

Raila claimed not even threats of being arrested and jailed will stop their train of dissent from reaching its political destination and transforming the lives of Kenyans. Among the methods the coalition is exploring include peaceful demonstrations, public meetings while also using the high cost of living as a weapon to build public dissent against the government.

Addressing jubilant residents in Kisumu, the coalition’s principals claimed that the court of public opinion will vindicate them and said Kenyans have a right to stand up and reject electoral theft.

“We will fully support any course to make the government listen and care for a better Kenya for all Kenyans,” said Raila.

Raila, who claimed that he won last year’s elections after garnering 8.1 million votes, said the coalition will hold meetings across the country.

The coalition came up with several resolutions. “We have accepted to be arrested and sent to jail. We will not relent on our course, no matter what happens,” said the ODM leader.

They said they will not keep quiet as Kenyans continue to suffer because of tough economic times.

Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua said the court of public opinion will be integral in helping them find justice. “The Supreme Court refused to listen to us and now we have come to you as the court of public opinion to give us direction. The Constitution has given you all the powers to decide and so if the government has refused to listen to you, you can remove them,” said Karua.

Karua said they will continue with peaceful meetings across the country. “These rallies are not for Raila or myself but the people. We must speak in one voice and say enough is enough,” said Karua.

Leaders who accompanied Raila included ODM Deputy Party leader and former Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya who claimed that they will not accept any handshake.

“There will be no handshake. If you Raila go for handshake, I will not support you,” said Oparanya.

The coalition claimed that they will not allow the government to constitute a new IEBC without their input and claimed the commission is at the center of the woes Kenyans are facing.

“We will work with Kenyans to ensure IEBC is constituted in a way that they want and are sure of,” said Raila. Karua said: “They are planning to constitute IEBC without our involvement. We will not allow him to form a Ruto commission.”

Peaceful revolution

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka likened their quest to a peaceful revolution, saying such actions are usually successful. “We want to demonstrate. We are serious about the change we want,” said Kalonzo.

The Wiper leader urged Kenyans to continue the push for reforms through various means provided by the Constitution, including peaceful protests.

“You have to stand up for your rights. You have to say no to electoral theft,” Kalonzo said. Oparanya pleaded with Raila to allow him to suspend the so-called ODM rebels.

Roots Party party leader George Wajackoya claimed he is on a mission to clean “Raila’s House” and weed out those he claimed have betrayed the former prime minister.

“All the leaders who went to State House must be chased away. Those leaders were only voted in because of Raila,” said Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina. Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga called on the region to remain united saying that the community has over the years gained respect because of unity.

Wanga, who thanked Raila for fighting for devolution, promised that Nyanza governors will continue supporting him.

Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo challenged the ODM leaders courting Kenya Kwanza to resign from their seats. “Those who feel bigger than ODM should resign and seek those seats and see if they can elected,” said Otiende. 

[Story by Olivia Odhiambo, Clinton Ambujo and Harold Odhiambo]