Raila says Ruto frustrated President Samia's mediation efforts

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga at a past press briefing. [File, Standard]

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga has accused President William Ruto’s government of frustrating Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu's mediation efforts in the country.

President Ruto has differed with his former ally, Raila over the increase in taxation and the high cost of living.

In a sit-down with International media on Tuesday, July 25 morning, Raila revealed that President Suluhu had visited the country a fortnight ago but was kept waiting for two days.

“Tanzanian President [Samia Suluhu] was in the country two weeks ago. It was on [President] Ruto’s invitation. She was kept waiting. We were available, but they [Kenya Kwanza] were not available. In fact, she had to spend two nights,” Raila told the journalists.

He says that even other people had tried to intervene and mediate but the president refused. “He is pretending and lives in delusion that we have a crisis,” the former Premier adds.

“When [President] Ruto appealed and called us, we called off the demonstrations and agreed to talk. This was against my people’s wishes. We set up a team but they withdrew from the talks. They always said they were not available and that their members were out of the country and therefore, they have no quorum,”

In response to the impact the anti-government protests that turned violent had on his supporters, Raila says Azimio Coalition will launch a funds drive to raise money aimed at supporting the families of deceased and injured protesters.

“To the families that have lost their loved ones, we condole with them and pray for injured in hospitals. That is why we called off tomorrow’s demonstrations, to mourn. We will also launch a funds drive to help families of departed and injured. It will be announced in the course of today or Wednesday,”

In his conversation with the journalists from international media houses, Raila has maintained his push for an inclusive government, respect for all political parties, IEBC reforms, repealing the Finance Act, 2023, and lowering the cost of living.

“You cannot deal with the high cost of living by increasing taxes. They are saying that it [taxes] is to be used to pay debts. If the economy is in recession worldwide, you add money to the economy. What they have done is continue to dig deeper. Why am I saying this? It is because we’ve been here before with [the late] President Kibaki and we got out of it.”

In his push for reforms, Raila has vowed to use both the legal and civil routes to make sure the country's needs are met. He argues that he cannot take the legal route alone, because the state has a history of disobeying court orders.

“It has to be a combination of both judicial and civil methods. This is because they are not respecting the rulings of the court. For example, the court stopped the implementation of the Finance Act, 2023, which increases VAT on fuel from 8 percent to 16 percent. The regulator has ignored and implemented it. That is why we have to fight both on the streets as we keep fighting in the courts.”