The Opposition is working on a political plan whose main aim is to ensure President William Ruto serves for only one term.
Already, Azimio leader Raila Odinga has maintained that he will not recognise Ruto as Kenya’s fifth president, which has plunged the nation into an electioneering mode barely seven months after the last General Election.
“Ruto, as a deputy president, started his campaign just after the elections; why should we wait when we have more time? Remember, the end game of Azimio rallies is to push for a referendum and popularise Oparanya, Karua, and Kalonzo ahead of the polls so that one can be a flagbearer if Raila will not contest in the elections,” an Azimio insider told The Sunday Standard.
Ruto has already ruled out talks with Raila that could lead to a handshake deal.
“As president, I am going to make sure that we avoid and banish impunity. There is nobody who is going to threaten Kenya with impunity. Everybody must respect the law, and this country is going to be governed by the rule of law. We will make sure that everybody obeys the Constitution and works and respects the rule of law,” Ruto said.
Politicians and pundits say Azimio will use the protests to rally wananchi against the rising cost of living and to popularise a referendum seeking to change the Constitution to alter the Executive so that they can tame Ruto’s influence and create a strong momentum for the 2027 election.
Raila has said that Azimio will not relent at all.
“We want to ask the people of Kenya to wake up—wake up to the fact that the country is in serious trouble, and there is no reason whatsoever for anyone to imagine that things will get better,” he said.
Azimio has defended countrywide rallies that culminates into the Monday Nairobi mass action rally, saying that they have been public consultations to get public opinions on how the country should be governed.
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Some sources close to Raila say that the rallies intend to popularise former Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya, former Cabinet Minister Martha Karua, former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and former Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, who have also addressed the rallies in a push for a change of leadership.
The rallies, at which Raila has made several declarations towards electoral justice and governance, are meant to popularise the referendum and make it hard for Ruto to lead.
Kalonzo’s close confidants have set the tempo for his 2027 bid, arguing the Wiper leader has supported Odinga three times — in 2013, 2017, and 2022 — and the ODM leader must this time endorse his candidature.
“We have supported some people here for years, and they have the audacity to look down on us. I am telling Kalonzo to tell Raila Odinga to follow him. This time, support you (Raila) support Kalonzo Musyoka, and I am telling you without fear or favour, if you cannot support him, we are not with you,” Machakos Governor Wavinya Ndeti at a rally in Kathiiani.
The coalition believes the push for a referendum will create a good environment for their potential candidates.
“After the rallies, expect a referendum called by Raila to gauge his popularity ahead of the 2027 polls. If he believes he is popular, he will run, but if he doesn’t see his popularity because age and health are not on his side, he will not run,” says political analyst Javas Bigambo
“Raila has done it before when there was a referendum against former president Mwai Kibaki in 2005, and the next referendum will be against Ruto,” he adds.
Bigambo says that if Ruto agrees to a referendum in the first term, the chances that Raila or his preferred candidate will win the polls are high.
“Ruto will try to block the referendum or demand that the referendum and election be held together to stop Raila from using the momentum to build his campaign muscle,” he adds.
“Raila will announce now that he is ready to endorse someone, but he is likely waiting for an electrifying moment where he can whip emotions,” he told the Sunday Standard.
However, National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi says Azimio’s activities are meant to defend democracy and ensure Kenyans have good leadership.
“We can see a clear attempts to return the country to a one-party dictatorship. We are at a pivotal stage in our country’s political history. We have to stand up and be counted. We have chosen to be on the right side of history,” says Wandayi.
Raila has maintained that Ruto subverted the will of the people by governing with absolute contempt and an iron fist. He has also accused him of using doublespeak and failing to keep his campaign promises.
“Kenya Kwanza must tell the people why food remains unavailable and unaffordable. The financial stipend must be made immediately available to poor families and youths who are struggling to make ends meet,” Raila said, adding, “The regime promised there would be money in Kenyans’ pockets as soon as they were sworn in; the money needs to get too needy families now.”
Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi says it would be political irresponsibility for Azimio to remain silent when Kenyans are facing high costs of living, increased taxation, increased corruption, food insecurity, forced GMO, public debt, electoral injustice, and other injustices.
“Azimio has every right to engage Kenyans as well as give solutions to the challenges facing the country. The KK regime is now attempting to interfere with the running of independent institutions,” says Osotsi.