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Ruto, Gachagua, Raila snub clergly’s dialogue call, intensify war of words

President William Ruto, his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua, and opposition leader Raila Odinga appear in no mood to tone down amid a political crisis that has escalated to protests.

Mr Odinga recently led countrywide protests on March 20, 2023, resulting in the destruction of property, two deaths, and 280 arrests, according to official police records.

Pleas by religious leaders inviting the leaders to dialogue has so far fallen on deaf years, amid concerns fresh protests could further negatively impact on the economy.

While referring to Mr Odinga as an economic terrorist, President Ruto has maintained he will not allow the opposition leader to sabotage the economy.

“There’s no reason whatsoever for anyone to stand in the way of free enterprise, disrupt business or sabotage economic activity or work as economic terrorists for personal selfish interest,” said the Head of State on Wednesday, two days after the countrywide protests.

“Such impunity must be dealt with firmly and with full accountability enforced to vindicate Kenya’s commitment as a free market economy.”

Odinga has responded by referring to President Ruto as a dictator leading an illegitimate government.

“Mr Ruto is opening the full dictator’s playbook to kill democracy. We as Azimio cannot and will not allow Ruto to take us to the dark days of yesterday. We cannot and will not participate in a handshake with an illegitimate regime,” he said.

“We are courting disaster. We are feeding a monster from which, in due course, no one will be safe, not even those currently cheering,” he said.

On the other hand, Gachagua says that Odinga is busy seeking a political handshake through the demos.

“The aim of Odinga is to sell fear to President William Ruto so that he can be called for a handshake. We urge you our President; we don’t want that man Raila in our government. Let him demonstrate from Morning to Evening but we will not offer a handshake to him,” Gachagua said.

On the flip side, President Ruto has also claimed that Mr Odinga is stoking a political crisis to force his government into a settlement to advance family business interests.

“I want to tell them to forget about the handshake and don’t tell us you do not want a handshake. We know you and we can see you,” Ruto said.

However, Odinga has maintained that he is not interested in Handshake.

Also read: Eric Omondi again asks Ruto to reduce price of fuel, maize flour