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The Raila, Kalonzo plan to rein in Ruto

Azimio la Umoja Parliamentary group meeting Press Brief at Jaramogi Odinga Oginga Foundation Nairobi addressed by Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka. [Emmanuel Wanson, Standard]

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya has begun its reactivation a month after losing the presidential election to President William Ruto.

Yesterday, Azimio leader Raila Odinga and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka toured the city signaling their preparedness to take up their role as the opposition after an earlier seeming reluctance.

In twin meetings, the two leaders indicated they were ready to put on toes the Kenya Kwanza government.

Notably, the Wiper leader is living true to his promise to take cue from President Ruto and begin campaigns immediately after the elections. Given the developments of the last two weeks, Kalonzo now appears to represent the new face of the Opposition politics, a role previously held by Raila who seems to have gone slow after the August 9 elections.

Though Raila has not formally endorsed the Wiper leader’s move to be the face of the Opposition, his absence has seen Kalonzo try to fill in the void either by political default or design being a senior politician in the opposition.  Last month, Kalonzo criticised the Kenya Kwanza government over handling of the high cost of living and Ruto’s nominees to Cabinet saying that some had integrity issues and their names should be withdrawn to avoid national and international shame.

“Ruto administration has started off on the wrong foot on almost every front,” he said after Azimio parliamentary group meeting.

Given that, Raila is 77 years now, he will be 82, in 2027 while Kalonzo will be 73. This could indicate that the Wiper leader is angling to take over the ‘enigma’s vote bloc and position himself as a formidable opponent taking advantage of the 49 per cent of voters.

The Wiper leader has been in politics for nearly four decades and has served in various positions in government including 30 years as an MP, 20 as a minister, and five years as Vice President. Uncharacteristic of his political demeanor, Kalonzo has lately been bold and has taken on Ruto’s administration including giving an indication that he will challenge him in 2027.

Days, after he was sworn in, the President said he will not have a handshake with the Opposition leaders and in an immediate rejoinder, the Wiper leaders swiftly responded they will not be looking for jobs in his government.

“Ruto should know that we don’t want any job from him, we already have a lot of work to do,” Kalonzo retorted.   

Yesterday, Raila and the Wiper leader decried the high cost of living and blasted the government for failing to address it.

Speaking when he addressed members of Bunge La Mwananchi today at Jevanjee Gardens in Nairobi, after being invited by their leader Calvin Okoth alias Gaucho, the Azimio said it is unfortunate that Kenyans are continuing to suffer high cost of basic items.

Price of maize flour

He said despite the two, President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, promising that once they take over government they will reduce the current high cost of living, nothing has been done.

“I feel the way you are also feeling. I know the price of maize flour and fuel has increased same as fares and rent. Everything has increased and the salaries have remained the same while some reduced and I know Kenyans are feeling bad and are painful,’’ said Raila.

“During campaigns, they (Kenya Kwanza) said when they take over, they will reduce the cost of Unga from Sh200 to Sh70 but it has increased, that price of fuel will reduce but it has gone up, that they will release Hustlers Fund, Women Fund and create jobs but has all that been seen?’’ He posed.

Raila, who was accompanied by MPs Babu Owino (Embakasi East), Caleb Amisi (Saboti), Felix Oduor (Langata), and Peter Orero (Kibra), said it is unfortunate that the current government promised a lot with pride but have forgotten and are unable to fulfill them.

He said Kenya Kwanza government promised to honour their pledges within 100 days and Azimio and Kenyans, are waiting to see what they will do.

Raila defended former President Uhuru Kenyatta, for introducing fuel and unga subsidies.

He said subsidies were being applied evenly across the world to cushion citizens from impacts of Covid-19 and the Russia–Ukraine war.

“We as Azimio said we will reduce the cost of living. They were accusing former President Uhuru of introducing subsidies which are being applied in the whole world,” said Raila.

“After Covid-19, many governments entered into what we call subsidies. The Russia-Ukraine war increased the cost of living but Uhuru knew the solution so that the effects of cost of living do not hurt citizens but they said the subsidies are unsuitable,” he added.

Raila also claimed that the price of fuel will increase again on October 14.

During inauguration, President Ruto castigated Uhuru for introducing fuel and maize flour subsidies.

“In addition to being very costly, consumption subsidy interventions are prone to abuse, they distort markets and create uncertainty, including artificial shortages of the very products being subsidised,” he said.