Azimio leader Raila Odinga has announced he will resume his countrywide rallies that were halted late last year.
In November last year, Raila had launched what he called public meetings in protest against what he termed poor performance by President William Ruto’s administration.
After a rally at Kamukunji Grounds, Nairobi, in late November, Raila called off the rallies, including a major one that was planned for Jacaranda grounds on Jamhuri Day.
“We’ve rescheduled the start of our public engagements from tomorrow, November 30, 2022, to December 7, 2022, due to the ongoing national examinations. We have listened to the appeals of parents and school-going children and we decided to obey their wishes,” the Azimio statement read.
But in a statement sent to newsrooms yesterday, Raila announced the return of the public barazas. He said he would hold a meeting tomorrow morning and welcomed Kenyans to attend.
“The Rt Hon Raila Odinga returns to the country on Monday 23. He is expected to land at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 11am. Upon arrival, he will proceed to the Kamukunji Grounds for a people’s baraza consultations with the public where they will discuss recent disclosures by a whistle blower on the conduct of the 2022 General Election.” read a statement from his spokesman Dannis Onyango. Raila left the country for South Africa on January 13.
The statement added: “Raila appeals to Kenyans to show up in large numbers at the Kamukunji Baraza in the interest of the country.”
Last year, Raila said he would use the meetings to give Kenyans an opportunity to express their disappointment with President Ruto and his Kenya Kwanza government.
He said the rallies would offer a way forward in seeking to put the government in check.
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The Azimio leader accused Ruto of having promised Kenyans that the Hustler funds would be interest free, yet they are now getting little loans “which cannot solve their problems.”
“You all heard Ruto moving around the country promising Kenyans very many things including interest free Hustler Fund. Have Kenyans gotten the cash they were promised? This is an obvious sign that he is not going to keep his promises,” he said.
Raila, at the same time, assured Kenyans that Azimio was united and would keep the government in check to avert a “return to the dark days and corruption.” The public rallies resumption comes days after Azimio leaders led by Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka maintained that Raila won the August 9, 2022 presidential election with a big margin.
Addressing journalists at the Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka (SKM) Command Centre in Nairobi on Thursday, the Azimio principals said they did not have the “valid” results when they filed their petition at the Supreme Court challenging President William Ruto’s victory.
The team, which included Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, said Raila got 8.1 million votes while Ruto got 5.9 million votes. Official results by the IEBC indicated Ruto won with 7.18 million of the votes (50.49 per cent) against Raila’s 6.94 million votes (48.85 per cent). Azimio principals said the new alleged results were disclosed to them by an insider at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
“The data that we shared with Kenyans in regard to the election outcome was not available to us when we filed the presidential petition in August last year,” Kalnzo said on Thursday.
The evidence the Azimio team produced in court was termed “hot air” by the Supreme Court for failing to meet the threshold needed to overturn a presidential election outcome.
“We’re now waiting for Raila to return from South Africa so that we chart the way forward,” said Kalonzo, adding: “Kenyans will surely be informed about the next course of action.” The Thursday meeting was also attended by former Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Jubilee Party Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni and Raila’s spokesperson in the presidential election Makau Mutua.
The Azimio team said they would soon reveal details of what transpired on August 9 last year. “Expect more bombshells when Raila returns,” said Kalonzo. A day before, Kioni had claimed that election results were manipulated in the Mt Kenya region.
“It’s unbelievable what we are told about Raila’s votes in Mt Kenya. For instance, in Kiambu County, we understand Raila got 434,501 votes while Ruto got 371,377 votes. In Kirinyaga County, Raila got 186,831 votes while Ruto got 72,399 votes,” said Kioni.
Yesterday, Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi said the calls for public engagement meeting had the support of almost seven million Kenyans who voted for Raila.
He claimed many Kenyans were not happy with the manner the government is run. Mr Osotsi said Azimio supporters will get to know what transpired at Bomas of Kenya that denied Raila victory.
“The Azimio leader will use the opportunity to inform Kenyans of the latest findings on Bomas of Kenya and what exactly transpired during the tallying for the presidential vote. That is the moment Azimio supporters and all Kenyans will get to know the truth,” said Osotsi.
The public barazas come a week after Ruto completed a tour of Kisumu, Homa Bay and Siaya counties where he was given a rosy welcome by predominantly Azimio leaders.
During one of the meetings, Siaya Governor James Orengo asked that president to begin talks with Raila for the sake of unity and prosperity of the country.
“We are urging you to sit together with Baba (Raila) and have a chat for the good of the country. We want a united nation so that we can move ahead together,” said Orengo during Ruto’s visit to Siaya.