It is prayer rallies versus people forums for president Ruto and Raila

Those that support the government have defended their meetings as prayer ceremonies, while those in the opposition have used the ceremonies as political forums where they have aired their grievances with the Ruto administration.

Today, the president is expected to lead a nation battered by the high cost of living, drought and hunger, amid other challenges, in prayers at the Nyayo national stadium in Nairobi. He will be accompanied by First Lady Racheal Ruto.

On Sunday, the president was in Nakuru for an interdenominational service as has been the case for nearly all Sundays since ascending the presidency where he attends church service, often accompanied by leaders from both national and county governments.

Raila has in recent weeks held People Assembly Forums in Nairobi's Kamukunji grounds, Machakos and Busia counties. A similar gathering was to be held in Kisii on Monday but was pushed to Friday, February 17th.

He maintains the rallies are aimed at sensitising Kenyans on their democratic rights and has used the platforms to call for electoral reforms, claiming his victory in the 2022 polls was stolen. The forums have also been used to challenge the Kenya Kwanza administration's pledges made during campaigns to lower the cost of living.

Ruto's allies like Kiambu Senator Karungo Wa Thang'wa claim the difference between the government's Sunday events and that of the opposition is like that of the day and night.

According to the Senator, by attending the thanksgiving ceremonies, the Head of State is only fulfilling his promise that he would crisscross all the 47 counties to thank them for bestowing him the mandate of heading the country.

"He (the President) is not distracted in any way by the opposition rallies, remember we had the economic forums where all the priorities for all the counties were spelt out and that is being taken care of for Raila. They are starting from where we ended and he will do nothing with his political rhetoric," said Thangwa.

Jubilee Nominated Mp Sabina Chege separately contends with Thangwa saying by holding prayers, the President is spearheading national healing unlike Raila, who she claims is inciting Kenyans in his rallies which is a recipe for chaos.

By a strong opposition, Kenyans need not be invited against the legitimate government. He (Raila) should establish structures such as forming shadow cabinet ministers to criticise the government and offer tangible solutions to problems affecting the country," said Chege.

Kiambu Women Representative Ann Wamuratha, defended the prayer rallies saying they present opportunities for the president to correct the wrongs made by his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta who she claimed lost touch with leaders and people hence the rebellion from his own people.

"Uhuru did not balance between work and social interactions and the president knows too well about it and that is what he is correcting. During these forums, he listens to leaders and locals and this prevents cases of being misled by his handlers, on the other hand, the opposition is insulting the legitimate government and its leaders," said Wamuratha.

However, Former Nyeri Mp Ngunjiri Wambugu cautions the government over the ongoing rallies saying they are slowly entering into the opposition's trap to engage in politics until 2027.

"Both activities present a continuation of the campaigns from where we left in August. Raila is where Ruto was before elections, posing as a hustler defender while Ruto is in government with tools of power," Wambugu said.

He opined that by earning the president's attention, Raila has been able to distract the government which will only be keen on responding to its detractors instead of getting down to work.

But Chege disagrees and says the Ruto-led government is working from Monday to Friday, while only attending thanksgiving ceremonies on Sundays.

Former Gatanga Mp Nduati Ngugi, however, faults Ruto's administration over what he termed as abusing the sanctity of worship. "Going to church to give thanks is a good thing but going there with ill motives is bad. As for the opposition, they are doing their work by engaging locals on topical issues such as the high cost of living and the exorbitant increment of bills," said Ngugi.

Political analyst Prof Gitile Naituli, on his part, said the government stood to lose with the ongoing counter accusations with the opposition. Gitile said the President must stop the ongoing prayer events on Sundays. "The so-called thanksgiving ceremonies are actually political rallies with prayer interludes. The president must approach the church silently and not use it as a platform to hit out at his political rival," said Naituli.