Last week did not turn out as President William Ruto had anticipated it. This was meant to be his crowning moment after months of shuttle diplomacy, hoping from one continent to the next in pursuit of partners and investors.
However, the intensity of protests that took place during a state visit by Iranian President Ebraim Raisi, was like an unexpected storm on President Ruto’s parade.
And even before Ruto could come to terms with the wanton destruction of state property, the opposition has announced a third wave of anti-government protests this week.
In a statement to newsrooms, Azimio announced that it would hold protests on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
“Further to the communication issued yesterday on the third wave of peaceful protests scheduled to start on Wednesday next week, and following overwhelming requests for the need to intensify these demonstrations, the coalition hereby wishes to announce a revision of the calendar,” read the statement in part.
“Going forward, the peaceful protests will now be held on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday next week, in line with requests from the public to include three days of activity,” it added.
The international community’s spotlight is now on Ruto, carefully anticipating his next move.
Granted, despite the heightened political confrontation between security agents and the opposition, Ruto’s administration has been able to facilitate meetings and sustain the inflow of investors.
This is evidenced by the packed week the president had last week.
On Wednesday, 30 Saudi companies led by Investment Minister Khalid Al Falih were in Nairobi to close mega investment deals. On the same day, the Iranian president was also in country where he signed off on five bilateral agreements.
Indonesian companies led by Coordinating Minister for Maritime & Investments Gen Luhut were also in the country on an investment drive.
At the same time 54 African Trade Ministers were also in Nairobi on the same day for the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation Matrix.
On Friday, Afriexim Bank CEO Prof Benedict Oramah also arrived in the capital to complete deals under the Fund for Economic Development for Africa.
The crowning moment is expected today (Sunday) when Ruto hosts over 25 African Heads of State for the African Union mid-year summit with special focus on the African Continental Free Trade Area.
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And next week, President Biden's Chief United States’ Trade Representative Katherine Tai will be in Nairobi to review the progress of the Kenya-US Strategic Trade & Investment Partnership (STIP).
Ruto now says that the high-level meetings are all part of his development agenda for the country which he has vowed will go on unperturbed.
During the launch of the Njabini-Naivasha road Friday, the President said he would not allow any more protests and was ready to face opposition leader Raila Odinga head-on.
“I promise you that maandamano will no longer happen in this country. Their planned protests for Wednesday next week will not happen. We can no longer tolerate the destruction of property and hiring of goons to terrorise Kenyans,” said a livid Ruto.
In a warning shot to the opposition, he cautioned that they cannot “continue using bloodshed, death and destruction of property to gain power”, noting that a total 15 kenyans had lost their lives in the last two waves of the protests.
“You cannot use extra-constitutional means to look for power in Kenya. There is a constitution and the people of Kenya went to an election and voted in their government…the high cost of living can only be reduced by implementation of our plan for food security but not through the protests,” added the President.
He further poured cold water on the claims by the opposition that they would use the protests to force a handshake or resignation from the Head of State.
“They claim they want to force us to ceding part of government but it will not happen. I will be hard on the opposition because Kenya is for everyone not just protestors. How many people have to die for them to consider their protests successful?” posed Ruto.
The last round of demonstrations saw the police clash with protestors, property of worth millions destroyed and the state and opposition trade accusations on who’s to blame for the anarchy.
Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen estimated the damage on the Nairobi expressway to be Sh700 million.