Gachagua: Raila demanded 11 CS, PS slots to call off protests

Anti-riot police officers try to calm down a section of Azimio supporters as they protested against high cost of living on March 30, 2023. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has revealed that Azimio leader Raila Odinga demanded half of cabinet secretaries, ambassadorial, PS slots so he can call off the weekly mass action.

At an interview on Inooro TV on Sunday April 16, Gachagua said the demand was conveyed by US President Joe Biden's home Senator Christopher Coons.

The Delaware Senator who is not new to Kenyan political deal making met both Raila and Gachagua when President William Ruto was out of the country.

"I reminded Coons that after Joe Biden won America's Presidential election and following former President Donald Trump's protests that turned chaotic, Biden did not sit down with Trump to deliberate on handshake," Chagua said on the interview.

The DP said he told the US senator that giving Raila an audience to discuss a power sharing formula would defeat the purpose of holding Kenya's costly elections after every five years. "Kenya's elections cost Sh30 billion and it would be futile to hold elections every year only to discuss about power sharing, I told the Senator that instead of engaging in a costly affair after every five years, we would better then sit down with Raila to discuss who to get what position," he said.

Gachagua however said the only window that would see President Ruto give Raila an audience is when he indicates that he is ready to retire from politics.

According to him, Ruto is ready and willing to discuss how the government will award the former Prime Minister his retirement benefits. "We can only engage in talks with Raila to see how the government can give him a security detail, several cars and retirement perks and not to discuss an election that we fairly won, let him wait for 2027," Gachagua added.

ICC threats

He said he is not intimidated by Azimio threats to forward his name to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over claims of misusing the police service. He said as the Deputy President, he will continue to protect people's property during protests. "Just as we contained them during their protests, that is what we shall do when they resume their chaotic protests. We will not allow them access Nairobi Central Business District to oversee mass destruction of private property."

He said government was within the law to use force to protect other people's rights that were being infringed by the opposition during the protests.

"The demands they are giving to warrant the protests are not genuine, all what they want is to access power through the back door and we shall not entertain them, they have succeeded in the past but they won't this time round," Gachagua said.

Gachagua further denied that he is a hardliner in the President's wing saying engaging in a handshake with Raila would see him and Ruto suffer the same fate that former President Uhuru Kenyatta suffered.

Kenyatta became unpopular in his backyard, he said.

"The President is fully aware that the people of my region refused Uhuru because of Raila and we can't afford to repeat the same mistake, one who has been bitten by a snake gets scared when he sees a rope," Gachagua said.

Kenya Kwanza spokesman

Gachagua now claims to be the de facto spokesperson of the political wing of the Kenya Kwanza administration adding that he has the blessing of his boss and of the people who elected the administration. "All people including witches, priests and all others look up to the President while I speak on behalf of our political wing and when I say there wont be a handshake that is our political stand."

His remarks come at a time when the Opposition has proposed structured talks that mirror the Kofi Annan led talks that were conducted after the post-election violence of early 2008 which birthed the Grand Coalition government.

Raila has also called for the extension of bipartisan talks to involve leaders outside parliament and to involve other demands as opposed to discussing the electoral process only.

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