Raila warns of mass protests if Finance Bill sails through

Azimio la Umoja Raila Odinga (centre) in Nyahera, Kisumu, during the memorial of the late Luo Council of Elders Chairman Willis Opiyo Otondi. [Michael Mute, Standard]

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance leader Raila Odinga has called on his supporters to prepare for another round of mass protests should their attempts to shoot down the controversial Finance Bill 2023 fail in the National Assembly.

Raila, who appears to have slammed the door for dialogue with the government, dared Kenya Kwanza leaders to pass the controversial Bill.

He hinted that anti-government demonstrations may resume on July 3, and would be non-stop. However, he said they would issue the call for the protests after MPs have voted on the Finance Bill, 2023.

Raila has adopted a two-faced approach to address his political concerns and is hoping his troops in Parliament will put on a spirited fight to frustrate the Bill.

In public, the ODM leader is lobbying more Kenyans opposed to the Bill to join his bandwagon. Kenya Kwanza is the majority in the National Assembly, and it remains to be seen how Azimio will marshal numbers to defeat the Bill.

Speaking in Nyahera, Kisumu, during the memorial of the late Luo Council of Elders Chairman Willis Opiyo Otondi, Raila intensified his criticism against President William Ruto’s regime.

This comes as the ODM chief and his allies intensified grassroots mobilisation against the Bill to push back Ruto’s regime. “If they pass the Bill, we will be with them. We will come out,” said Raila.

He has directed Azimio MPs to stand firm and oppose the Bill. Raila argues that the Bill would further raise the cost of living, hurting Kenyans more.

“We will not accept any kind of frustration. Kenyans will defend their rights. The Kenyan horse is tired,” he said. The development comes as Azimio troops intensify efforts to build momentum for a possible return to mass protests. In Nyanza, ODM members have embarked on efforts to strengthen the party while also pushing for the interests of the coalition.

Addressing supporters in Nyahera, the ODM leader said the concerns they have against Ruto’s regime are non-negotiable.

He took a swipe at Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua for likening the government to a company where shareholders reap what they sow. “Our people are paying taxes. If they do not have shares in your company, then why are you imposing more taxes on them?” Posed Raila.

The Azimio boss also blamed Kenya Kwanza for the collapse in the bi-partisan talks. “They asked us to talk, and when we started conversations they changed. We will not go back to dialogue,” he said.

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi also ruled out dialogue with Ruto’s regime and urged Kenyans to join them in the fight against the Bill. “We gave them a chance to talk at the table, but they have demonstrated sincerity. Therefore, we are now past that stage,” he said.