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Maandamano! Raila Odinga’s three demands, Ruto’s rebuttal

The potentially bruising political face-off between President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga is finally here.

Mr Odinga has threatened to marshal his supporters all over the country in massive demonstrations against President Ruto’s government in Nairobi on March 20, 2023.

President Ruto has meanwhile said he is not cowed by the demonstrations. The Head of State has also warned that any destruction of properties as a result of the demos will ruthlessly be dealt with as per the law.

But what are Mr Odinga’s main demands to President Ruto?

1. Open the IEBC Servers – Mr Odinga maintains he won the August 2022 polls even though the official tally by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commision indicates he finished second behind President Ruto.

Thus, Mr Odinga claims the truth of who won the elections will be known if the IEBC servers are opened.

“If he (President William Ruto) agrees to open the server and it transpires indeed he is the one who won, the call (protest) will not be there,” he said in a recent television interview.

President Ruto has however rubbished the claim. He says Mr Odinga’s claims are not supported by the law. In any case, Mr Ruto says the issue of the August 2022 polls was formally settled by the Supreme Court via a ruling.

“Where in the constitution does it say that it is the responsibility of the President to go and open servers?” posed Ruto.

The IEBC declared Ruto the president of Kenya after he garnered 7.1 million votes against Raila’s 6.9 million.

2. Lower down the cost of living – Mr Odinga, who’s previously served as the country’s prime minister, has also demanded that President William Ruto lowers the cost of living.

This follows the hike in prices of several basic commodities including fuel and maize flour (unga).

“Kenyans are suffering. Some of them cannot put food on the table. Children are not going to school. The price of basic commodities including unga and fuel is too high for the people,” says Odinga.

“We request that Mr Ruto puts subsidies on this project so as to cushion Kenyans.

President Ruto has, however, accused Mr Odinga of double speak.

“When we took over the government, the price of Unga was Sh230, my government has worked towards lowering it and it’s now at Sh180. Soon the price of unga will be Sh140 and later reduced to Sh120,” said Ruto, who has also accused former president Uhuru Kenyatta’s regime of looting billions of shillings meant for subsidy.

3. Halt the process of appointing the new commissioners – Mr Odinga has demanded that President Ruto halts the ongoing process of appointing new IEBC commissioners. The new commissioners are slated to replace former IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati and his colleagues, whose term of office has expired.

“If Ruto agrees to talk over the IEBC reforms then we can step back other demands to give dialogue a chance,”

But President Ruto maintains the process of recruiting the new commissioners is ongoing as per the law.

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