'I am not a child, don't scold me', Raila tells Ruto

Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya leader Raila Odinga during a press conference at Capitol Hill in Nairobi. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya leader Raila Odinga says he won't be scared by President William Ruto's calls for him to end the weekly demonstrations.

Odinga, who spoke on Saturday, March 25 during a burial ceremony in Bondo, Siaya County, said he has valid reasons to spearhead the protests.

He claims he won the August 9, 2022 presidential election by more than 2 million votes, compared to President Ruto's tally.

"According to an IEBC whistleblower who gave us the results, I got 8.1 million votes, while Ruto got 5.9 million votes in the 2022 presidential polls. In the same election, the Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition had more governors, MPs and MCAs than the Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

"How could it be that Azimio had more elected leaders across the cadres, only to lose the presidential seat?" posed Odinga in his speech during the burial of Jerusha Odero.

"Ruto, therefore, doesn't have any authority to lecture me on the demos," he added.

The Azimio leader said he is "not a child" that the president can scold over the demos.

"Ruto cannot scare me. Can he really?" he posed. "I'm not a child that he can scold as he so wishes."

Odinga further said Kenya has had only two free and fair elections in its 60-year self-rule history - in 1963 and 2002.

"In 2002, when Kenya's election was free and fair, President Daniel Moi accepted to have ten representatives in selecting the electoral commission, while we, in the opposition, also fronted ten representatives. The team picked commissioners who delivered free and fair polls," said Odinga.

The ODM leader reiterated his previous remarks that the IEBC commissioners' selection process be subjected to inclusivity, with the opposition allowed to front a crucial number of members in the selection panel.

At the same time, he defended his participation in the March demos, saying they are not for his selfish gain.

"The demos will benefit Kenyans in the long run. I'm asking every citizen to come out on Mondays and Thursdays to protest against the high cost of living and an oppressive regime," said Odinga.

"Justice must prevail, and that is why I'm asking Kenyans to hold demos against the current administration."

Odinga's remarks come a day after President Ruto asked him to stop the protests so that he (Ruto) can "have room to work".

"Odinga competed against me in the presidential election, and not Kenyans. If he has any issues, then it is me that he should face. He shouldn't cause trouble for Kenyans who want to go about their businesses uninterrupted," Ruto said during a rally in Kisii County on Friday, March 24.

"It doesn't matter who Odinga is. He must observe the law. No one has the license to terrorise the people of Kenya with violence and anarchy," added the president.