Stop campaigns and work, Raila tells Ruto

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga speaks during an interview with The Standard at his Karen home on October 4, 2023. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The opposition has told President William Ruto to stop putting the country into a campaign mode.

Azimio la Umoja One-Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga said instead of running the government, the President had resorted to meetings which were not beneficial to the people.

“He was in Western, Rift Valley, Mount Kenya having meetings with politicians and political rejects instead of spending time to see how to run the country better,” said Raila.

The ODM leader spoke a day before the Head of State embarks on a four-day tour of his Nyanza stronghold, only a month after a similar one in the Western region. Ruto has also been to the Coast, Mount Kenya and Rift Valley.

The President is expected to unveil several projects during his trip to Nyanza in a tour that will end on Monday. “It is unfair for the Kenya Kwanza administration to keep Kenyans in a campaign mood for five years. They should instead focus on fixing people’s problems.”

Raila said he worked with President Mwai Kibaki, who did not spend time moving around the country yet he is remembered for his exemplary performance.

“Kibaki sat down and was planning and making the state organs work by putting proper structures, not running around sloganeering, cheap propaganda and calling people names,” said Raila.

Saying he was not bothered by Ruto’s visits to Nyanza, the ODM leader accused the Head of State of launching already existing projects.

He said some of the projects the President will be launching had already been tendered and commissioned, and some were financed through CDF.

Exuding confidence, Raila maintained that his party is the most popular in the country, and allayed fears that Ruto’s UDA is a threat to his political bases.

He accused Ruto of using some ODM legislators to fight the Orange party, but claimed that none of the legislators in his party had been expelled as reported before.

“We did not expel anyone, we only said that by working with another party, they are deemed to have resigned from the party,” said Raila.

He said the ODM party will hold its grassroots elections in February.

Raila decried the government’s failure to pay Azimio the Political Parties Fund, noting that they had run out of cash and had not been able to pay for their offices and their operations.

“The government is trying to suppress us. They have refused to pay what we are entitled to because they claim that there was no candidate apart from the presidency who ran on the Azimio party,” he said.

He noted that desperate to have control of both Houses, Ruto had been buying lawmakers because his Azimio coalition had won with the majority legislators in the National Assembly and Senate.

The opposition leader also told off those who want him to quit politics, saying that his time has not yet come. “A time will come when I will leave and another person will take over, but for now, I’ll stand with Kenyans.”

On the plans to have Kenyan police serve in Haiti as the lead nation of the Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission, Raila termed the move a misplaced priority.

On Tuesday, the United Nations Security Council voted to authorise MSS to bring relief to the people of Haiti, where murderous gangs reign.

On the same day, US President Joe Biden called President Ruto to thank him after Kenya responded to a plea to serve in the mission.

Raila wondered why President Ruto had decided to send police officers to deal with criminal gangs in the Caribbean country when Kenya has enough security challenges of its own.

“Why Kenya?” he said. “The US itself withdrew its forces from there. The problem with Haiti is political. They do not need more guns to calm that situation.”

He said Haiti issue should have been handled by either the US, the Caribbean neighbours or those in South America.

“Worse still, we have countries in West Africa like Sera Leone, Ghana and Liberia which are closer to the Caribbean side than East Africa,” he said.