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Siyad Jimale: “Raila-led anti-government protests has nothing to do with cost of living or electoral fraud”



By: Siyad Jimale

It is not about Cost of Living or Electoral fraud but a combination of Raila Odinga’s unique tactic of pushing his way into the government, Former President Uhuru defending Kenyatta business empire and his circle, as well as US and its allies that is fighting President Ruto in a bid to drop his move of unifying Africa, his proposal to have single currency in Africa, the De-dollarisation campaign and his commitment in the reforms for global financial institutions that is fanning the anti-government demonstrations.

Raila Odinga the leader of Azimio la Umoja–One Kenya Coalition Party has has run for the position of Kenya’s top position Five(5)times, won none and each time Raila alleged electoral fraud. After each of the five General elections, Raila and his die-hard supporters took to the streets disputing the outcomes of all the five General elections but this time, the age-old Raila-led anti-government demonstrations was completely different from the previous ones, and that sired doubt.

Why Raila-led anti-government protest is different from the previous ones? 

Unlike the other general elections where immediately after the announcement of Presidential results Odinga and his supporters use to come out guns blazing disputing the outcome of the election and subsequently marching to the streets, this time the style was different.

In 2022 General election after the announcement of the Presidential results, Raila and his supporters have not come out as furious as they use to do to dispute the results but have shown a-lot of restraint though they challenged it through the Court without marching to the streets.

On 5th of September, 2023 , Supreme Court confirmed William Ruto’s victory against Raila Odinga. Unexpected of Odinga and his group, they peacefully had a tiff with the judgement but no protest was witnessed on the streets.

After five months long holiday, Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga has reignited the usual demonstrations and announced the start of peaceful mass action protests against President William Ruto’s administration in a bid to force Ruto’s administration to address the cost of living, open the 2022 presidential election servers and stop the process of appointing new members of the electoral agency, IEBC. The anti-government protests eventually commenced on 20th of March,2023 in the capital, Nairobi which left destructions of properties, a number of Kenyans lifeless and businesses counting losses.

On 3rd of April, 2023, President Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga agreed to hold bipartisan talks through Parliament to resolve issues raised through weekly protests that have turned violent after the Kenyans of goodwill, the clergy and the International community called on the two leaders to talk. Weeks later, talks stalled and the opposition resumed the protests giving flimsy excuses including the inclusion of Jubilee legislator in the bipartisan talks, the squabble between Jubilee Party among others.

The chronological of these events and Odinga’s demand of parties outside parliament to be involved in talks similar to those that ended post-election violence in 2008 shows that indeed the Raila-led anti-government protests had nothing to do with the cost of living, electoral fraud but had other hidden motives.

What necessitated Former President Uhuru and Kenyatta family to get involved in this protests?  

The Kenyatta family controls a significant portion of the national economy including real estate, hospitality, dairy farming, media, banking among others. President Uhuru’s assumption of power from 2013 restricted some key business sectors to family and allies in what turned as state capture. The government of the day is now trying open up the market for all as opposed to the unwritten rule of former regime, and that is what triggered the Kenyatta Family to protect their business empire.

It is believed that under the watch of former President Uhuru Kenyatta, the nation recorded major corruption sagas including the Sh1.9 Billion National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) scam, Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF) graft, Ksh9.79 Billion National Youth Service (NYS ) scandal, Sh647 million scandal of Kenya Pipeline Company(KPC), Sh2 Billion of National Tree-Planting Program scandal, Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) saga, Arror and Kimwarer, KEMSA among others. These litany of multi-billion-shilling corruption scandals left a dent on former President Uhuru’s leadership.

A follow up on the aforesaid scandals by Ruto-Led administration will eventually touch Uhuru and his circle, to avert this, Mr. Kenyatta is believed to funding the protests in an attempt to pile up pressure, cause havoc and disruption so that the government of the day will not have an option but stop pursuing the perpetrators.

The reality that Dr. William Samoei Ruto is now the 5th President of the Republic of Kenya after all the humiliation, blackmail and threats is not really donning in the mind of former President Uhuru Kenyatta. There’s possibility that the “hidden anger” is now propelling Mr. Kenyatta to fund the ongoing protests.

What is the interest of US and its Allies in the ongoing anti-government protests in Kenya?

President Ruto’s proposal in the introduction of single currency for Africa, his campaign in De-dollarisation, unification of African states and his commitment in the reforms for global financial institutions is not going well with US and its allies. In disguise they are now fighting for the dominance of the dollar and their influence in the intra-African trade and geopolitics.

On 18th July, 2023, US and Allies issued joint statement depicting Kenya as a nation which is on the brink of collapse.

Equally, The UN Human Rights Office through the spokesperson Jeremy Laurence gave inaccurate & misleading statement saying “they are very concerned by the widespread violence, and allegations of unnecessary or disproportionate use of force, including the use of firearms, by police during protests in Kenya. Reports say up to 23 people have been killed and dozens injured in the demonstrations in the past week.”

A statement that Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary of Foreign Affairs Dr. Alfred Mutua has rebuked saying “ We will be engaging through appropriate channels to ensure that the international community is not sucked into conspiracies that are aimed at destabilizing our country.”

Cost of Living?

Cost-of-living” is a term coined by economists for the amount of money needed to maintain a certain quality of life while paying for housing, food, taxes and healthcare.

Occurrences of the past two years have left the world economy in a frail state. The economic impacts of the Pandemic, climate change and Russia—Ukraine conflict pushed many countries beyond their ability to cope. Rising prices of fuel, debt distress, and tightening financial conditions have now combined to create what the UN is calling the largest cost of living crisis of the century. Though the crisis is global, lower income countries are often the most affected and Kenya is not exceptional.

In Kenya, the worsening cost of living crisis is compounded by a depreciating shilling in a net import economy which raises prices of goods as business pass on the additional overheads to the consumer.

Be that as it may, President Ruto’s government acknowledges that there is high cost of living in the country and gives an assurance that things will be better moving forward.

The President said “the cost of living is a result of decisions made years ago and rectifying will take some time but will be worth it.”

He added that the solution can only be found if they do things in order and systematically while implementing the right policies.

What amazes many Kenyans is; Is the cost of living only affecting the supporters of Raila Odinga or the 50 million Kenyans?

Why is the protests not driven by the ordinary people but politicians? Are these politicians really pinched more by the cost of living than the ordinary Kenyans? Why is the demonstrations only for specific people and not for all Kenyans?

On 2011 while serving as Prime-minister in the grand coalition government, Raila Odinga said and it is on record “Issue of escalating food prices, high Fuel cost is not an issue of going on the streets but finding sustainable solution.”

Days before the general election, Mr. Odinga is on record defending the then Jubilee administration on the high cost of living. While responding to a question by citizen TV journalist in a Joint interview, opposition leader Raila Odinga alluded that the rise of the cost of living is as a result of the country not harvesting enough to satisfy the demands or rather the needs of Kenyans and other factors including Russia—Ukraine war that affected not only Kenya but many countries around the world. The same man cannot turn around and blame the government of the day which is barely 10 months in office.

All these points out that indeed the anti-government demonstrations has nothing to do with the cost of living but it is used as a cover up since it is an emotive issue currently.

Will President William Ruto give-in to these pressures? 

According to majority of the political analysts, Dr. William Ruto is smartest politician in Kenya today. His courageous trait , bravery, aggressiveness and commitment to political goals is what made him thrive in politics and dismantle his political rivals.

Ruto first ran for a political seat in 1997 general election and beat the incumbent, a powerful politician Reuben Chesire and Moi’s preferred candidate.

While serving as a Minister for Higher Education Minister in the grand-coalition government,William Ruto spearheaded “NO” campaign in the 2010 referendum on the constitutional reform against the then President Mwai Kibaki , former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and other powerful politicians who were pushing for the proposal of the new constitution. Although the “YES” camp managed their way, he received the support of at-least 30% of the voters singlehandedly.

On 2022 General elections, William Ruto ascended to the presidency even when the then President Uhuru Kenyatta and all the government machineries were fiercely working against him.

All this attributes shows a focused man who is committed to his goals and not afraid of whatever comes on his way. He is not ready to bow down to pressure anytime soon.

Is there a Possibility of a handshake between opposition leader Raila Odinga and President William Ruto?

First thing first; President Ruto’s administration come to power through anti-handshake and dynasties versus hustlers campaign narrative.

Hardliners in both President William Ruto camp and that of opposition leader Raila Odinga are fuelling the political fire with warlike positions that continue to open up the rift between the two caucus and dampen the pursuit for dialogue. It will not be easy for both the camps to share the “government”.

Unlike 2018, it will not be easy for Raila Odinga to make a handshake with President Ruto because of his supporters. Odinga’s supporters are not ready for handshake, they were betrayed in 2018 and they are not ready to be betrayed this time round.

While responding to accusations by DP Rigathi, Mr. Odinga said that he do not want to do handshake with Ruto-led government, he only want their demands to be met.

It is highly unlikely for a handshake to happen between Raila Odinga and President Ruto akin to the one that happened March 9, 2018, between former President Uhuru and Mr. Odinga on the steps of Harambee House, May be one away from public view.

Siyad Jimale is a political analysts who occasionally comment on contemporary issues 


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