UDA shaken by Raila’s plans in new year over the high cost of living

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UDA shaken by Raila’s plans in new year over the high cost of living

The warnings from the Azimio coalition to reignite widespread protests against the soaring cost of living seem to have unsettled President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza faction as the demands gain momentum leading up to the New Year.

Azimio leader Raila Odinga’s appeals are gaining support within Raila’s group, and various independent factions, including certain members of the clergy, are endorsing the initiative.

According to findings by The Standard, some of President Ruto’s associates are uneasy about the calls and advocate for the opposition to confine their actions to dialogue.

Concerns are arising that another wave of mass protests could be a double-edged sword, potentially exacerbating the economic challenges the opposition aims to tackle through these demonstrations.

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This comes amidst support from leaders and various stakeholders who endorse street protests as the sole means to resist the perceived excesses of the Kenya Kwanza administration.

While the opposition has not disclosed their strategy for addressing the high cost of living through protests, these calls have faced criticism from allies of Ruto.

Recently, numerous leaders from the Kenya Kwanza camp rejected the calls, urging the opposition to allow the president sufficient time to fulfill his campaign promises. They argued that mass protests could escalate beyond control, causing harm to an already delicate economy. These critics believe that the push for a revival of protests is motivated by self-interest.

Owen Baya, the MP for Kilifi North, asserted that opposition leaders seem determined to thrust the country into political and economic crises for their personal gain.

Baya stated that certain opposition leaders are still grappling with election hangovers and have not come to terms with the fact that President Ruto emerged victorious in the August 2022 elections.

“It is like Raila wants other avenues to stay relevant. He should move on for the sake of the country. 2024 is the year to turn around the economy and not destroy it,” said Baya.

Mosop MP Abraham Kirwa asserts that the ODM leader is trying to stay relevant in the country’s political landscape by championing the protests.

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Kirwa argued that many of the concerns raised by the opposition were already addressed in the bipartisan talks.

“We just concluded bipartisan talks recently, where Raila’s team agreed on most issues discussed. The government has also adhered to most of his demands, but he (Raila) keeps making fresh demands,” he said.

Kirwa highlighted that the cost of food has decreased, and there has been a decline in fuel prices since last month’s review by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA).

He added that President Ruto’s administration has implemented measures to stabilize the economy.

“Azimio’s leader is playing politics to get public relevance. They will never be satisfied even after holding talks with the government. The government has adhered to every demand they make, but they seem not to be satisfied. They are crazy,” said the MP.

Kirwa additionally mentioned that Kenyans experienced peaceful Christmas festivities and expressed optimism that 2024 will be a more positive year, thanks to the measures implemented by Dr. Ruto’s administration.

Governor Erick Mutai of Kericho and Kipkelion East MP Joseph Cherorot criticized the intentions of the opposition, asserting that it would not result in anything meaningful.

Dr. Mutai emphasized the endeavors of the Kenya Kwanza government in implementing mechanisms to enhance the economy.

“There is no doubt that the Kenya Kwanza government has put in place mechanisms to improve the economy. Who is not aware that the prices of cooking flour have come down?” posed Mutai.

MP Cherorot urged Raila to step back and give the government time to implement the Kenya Kwanza manifesto.

“Resuming demonstrations could hinder the progress made in local economic recovery,” he said.

Raila’s allies, on the other hand, believe that the momentum for mass protests has already been set in motion, given the government’s failure to address the issue of the high cost of living.

Insiders suggest that a return to street protests will serve as the opposition’s significant pushback in 2024, providing an alternative to challenging Kenya Kwanza’s policies outside the National Assembly, where the government holds a substantial majority.

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Senator James Mwaruma of Taita Taveta expressed his support for the planned protest, stating that it is the only way to prevent the President from boasting and intimidating Kenyans. Mwaruma was among the leaders who led protests against the high cost of living last year.

In Raila’s ODM, nearly all lawmakers are endorsing mass action and are confident that the protests will have a more significant impact when the opposition formally announces its stance.

According to Rangwe MP Lilian Gogo, the opposition is prepared to spearhead a campaign against the issue of the high cost of living. She asserted that the upcoming protests will leave a more significant impact.

However, it seems that Raila’s faction will need to make additional efforts to persuade all members of Azimio’s parties, as some have voiced reservations about the reintroduction of street protests.

Lamu East MP Ruweida Mohamed, a member of the Jubilee party, expressed her lack of support for the demonstration, stating that it would exacerbate the economic situation in the country.

The MP mentioned that she supports the government due to its initiatives to link Lamu East with the rest of the country through road infrastructure and connecting it to the national grid.

In contrast, Kakamega Catholic Bishop Joseph Obanyi Sagwe expressed the view that the planned demonstrations by Raila were counterproductive, even though they were permitted in the constitution.

He suggested that the only viable option left for the opposition was to go to court and seek legal remedies to address any grievances they had against the Kenya Kwanza regime.

“The street ways are becoming unsafe for people and businesses. You don’t want to see deaths in the coming year because of politics. Let former Prime Minister Raila try to stop Ruto in court as the Judiciary exhibits some sense of independence,” he said.

Sheikh Juma Ngao, the Chairman of the Kenya National Muslim Advisory Council, stated that he would mobilize the people of the Coast region to support Raila if he chose to call for mass action regarding the increasing cost of living in the country.

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“The opposition leaders and Kenyans at large have used all language to plead with the government to lower the cost of living, but it has failed to heed. The best language is mass action,” said Ngao, who described himself as a senior Azimio religious leader.

He mentioned that picketing is allowed in the Kenyan Constitution, emphasizing that Azimio leaders were well within the legal framework to call for such actions.

“Sadly, this regime’s only economic policy is tax increment,” he said.

The cleric noted that administrations under Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Moi, Mwai Kibaki, and Uhuru Kenyatta subsidized food, but he asserted that President Ruto’s administration is taking the opposite approach.

“I challenge the government to state when the maize planted using subsidised fertilizer would be harvested so that the cost of maize flour can come down,” he said.

The chairman of pastors and bishops in Kakamega, Julius Abungana, urged Raila and his Azimio brigade to exercise caution and moderation in their calls for mass action beginning next year.

“Demos are not going to make the Kenya Kwanza regime listen. That trick failed and we ended up losing people and businesses in the demos that were called against the KK regime a few months ago,” said Abungana.

“The appropriate thing to do is to have the opposition sit with the government side under the mediation of priests and iron out the challenges that are facing Kenyans since politicians appear to lack a solution.”

Simultaneously, he appealed to President Ruto to abandon his firm and uncompromising stance against the opposition and the people of Kenya.

“This is time for the government to admit things are not well and source for ideas even from the opposition on how to return our economy to stable grounds, not talk down the opposition or the common man,” said Abungana.

In Other News: Court deals yet another blow to Ruto’s Affordable Housing Bill

UDA shaken by Raila’s plans in new year over the high cost of living

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