Raila Odinga to list brands Kenyans should boycott as mass action kicks off

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Omollo Odinga addresses supporters in Migori County, March 11, 2023. [Emmanuel Wanson, Standard]

Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition is building steam for its nationwide protests and appears to be targeting several companies they deem to be promoting President William Ruto’s regime.

The developments came as Azimio leader Raila Odinga hinted at plans to rally Kenyans to boycott products and services from a number of companies, promising to release the list of firms next week.

And while he was rallying his troops to back the nationwide mass action in Migori, business was temporarily paralysed in several towns in Nyanza and Western as his supporters took to the streets to protest over the high cost of living and against Dr Ruto’s regime.

There were protests in Kisumu, Luanda, Mbale and Vihiga towns with residents calling for the lowering of the cost of living which they claimed has brought horror to their lives.

In Migori, Raila led the Azimio brigade to a rally where they launched scathing attacks on the Kenya Kwanza administration and claimed their resolve to push Ruto’s administration out of government is on course.

The coalition’s latest tactics mirror those Raila and Nasa adopted in 2017 to force the Uhuru Kenyatta administration into submission, leading to the handshake deal though he has insisted he is not after power sharing.

Addressing hundreds of jubilant supporters in Migori, Raila said he was ready to sacrifice himself for the sake of the country’s growth and described the major protest rally planned for March 20 in Nairobi as the defining moment of the coalition’s activities.

Using a parable of a crocodile, the ODM leader claimed that he was prepared for anything and remains unfazed in his quest to fight for electoral justice, reduction of the high cost of living and good governance.

“I am ready to sacrifice myself for the future of this country. On March 20th, if it is a must that I must be the one that must be eaten by the crocodile for it to rain then I accept,” he said.

Raila noted that they are committed in their quest to checkmate Kenya Kwanza regime and hound them out of office.

A police officer restrains protestors on a street in Kisumu County. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

But it is his threat to rally his supporters to boycott a number of companies and their products that is likely to send fresh shivers down the spines of a number of companies.

“We have said that there are several companies being used badly by the government. We will tell you which items not to buy next week,” said Raila.

He claimed that one of the country’s mobile service providers is among the companies on their radar for allegedly allowing the government to use it against them.

According to Raila, Kenyans will now decide their future after some of the elected leaders joined hands with the government at the expense of standing firm for their people.

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka also rallied Kenyans to join their mass action and claimed that it will be the spark that will revolutionise the country.

However, he appealed to their supporters to maintain peace even as he defended the protests and claimed it is within their rights to demonstrate against a government they consider illegitimate.

“We will continue with peaceful protests without carrying any weapons. The Constitution allows us to picket and demonstrate,” said Kalonzo.

The Wiper leader expressed concern over the high cost of living as well as the failure by the government to address several problems affecting the country, including shortage of doctors.

He claimed that their struggle will bring fruits, adding they are on the second phase of the struggle while hinting that they are prepared for a third phase - without giving details of what it will entail.

“The time for change is now and we shall do it in a very orderly manner,” said Kalonzo.

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga and NARC Kenya's Martha Karua (right). Karua asked their supporters to back the protests. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua asked their supporters to back the protests.

“We have come to the last court and that court is the court of public opinion. This is the time to come out,” said Karua.

She claimed that the government cannot account for money that was available for subsidies even as Kenyans continue to struggle.

Karua said when they pledged to Kenyans free education and subsidies, they had already done their research and knew that money was available for the programs.

 In Kisumu, unlike past protests that were marred by violence, looting and loss of lives, it was peaceful yesterday as residents took to the streets in the lakeside city.

Police officers who were manning some of the security installations ignored attempts by some of the youths to engage them. The youths hurled stones at them without getting a response.

[Stories by Anne Atieno, Harold Odhiambo, Olivia Odhiambo and Brian Kisanji]

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