Azimio coalition leader, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, has on Thursday, April 13 announced the return of protests by his supporters, to pile pressure on the government to meet its demands.
Speaking at Ufungamano House in Nairobi, Odinga stated that the protests would resume after Ramadhan, which is expected to end on April 31, 2023.
Azimio suspended the protests on April 3rd after President William Ruto extended an olive branch by calling for bi-partisan talks to resolve the issues. While both Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza and Azimio have named teams to take part in the bi-partisan talks, Azimio has sought to have the talks expanded beyond Parliament – something Ruto has strongly opposed, stating that talks must happen within the confines of the Constitution.
Raila has called for an engagement similar to the National Accord process that followed the 2007/08 post election violence, and which resulted in the Government of National Unity. He, however, maintains that he is not interested in a ‘handshake’ or securing positions in government – which Kenya Kwanza maintains is his goal.
The refusal of Kenya Kwanza to extend talks beyond the confines of Parliament, has been one of the key issues causing the split after what appeared to be a ceasefire. Speaking on April 13, Odinga stated that they would proceed with the talks even as they engaged in the demonstrations.
Before they were called off, the protests were taking place every Monday and Thursday. Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua claimed they were costing the country around Ksh2 billion a day.
While calling off the talks, Odinga had warned that they would return to the streets if Kenya Kwanza failed to take the talks, and their demands, seriously.
Odinga’s side has among its demands the restoration of subsidies to ease the cost of living and reforms at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) which he wants reconstituted. Azimio has also demanded a forensic audit of servers hosting 2022 Presidential election data, maintaining that it would prove Odinga won the polls.