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Ruto returns as Raila marshals troops for maandamano Thursday

President William Ruto jetted back into the country on Thursday morning from his official visit to Germany as the country braces itself for yet another day of the biweekly protests by the leaders and supporters of Azimio la Umoja – One Kenya Coalition.

Upon arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) at 8:45am, the head of state was received by his deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, Inspector General of the police Japhet Koome, and Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces Robert Kibochi among other leaders.

President Ruto left the country on Sunday for a four-day tour of Belgium and Germany with trade talks being his main agenda. While the president was away, Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga escalated his anti-government protests on Monday as the demos entered week two.

Speaking during an interview on Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW), President Ruto accused Mr Odinga of using demonstrations so that he can unconstitutionally get a share of the government.

Also read: Raila’s major routes blocked by police in anticipation of Maandamano Thursday

“The riots in Nairobi are not so much about the cost of living. It is so much about some election results which is actually a settled matter but because cost of living is a pregnant issue; it is an emotive issue, our competitors are trying to take advantage but I think the people of Kenya are a lot wiser,” President Ruto said.

On Wednesday, Mr Odinga insisted that the planned demonstrations will continue to push President Ruto’s administration to lower the high cost of living, open last year’s presidential election servers for audit and stop unilateral reconstitution of the electoral agency.

President William Ruto confers with his deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport after he arrived back in the country on March 30, 2023. PHOTO | COURTESY

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“Today we are adding a fourth demand to Ruto to let parties be. Ruto must stop auctioning MPs like sheep and goats. If you want many MPs let them resign and seek a fresh mandate. If they win well and good,” Mr Odinga said.

This even after US Senator for Delaware Chris Coons, who has been linked to past efforts to broker a truce in Kenya, separately met him Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Mr Odinga.

However, both Mr Gachagua and Mr Odinga have stuck to hard-line positions in public statements ahead of today’s anti-government protests.

Also read: Karua dimisses Azimio protests link to ethnic tension

Speaking on Wednesday in Nyeri, the DP ruled out any dialogue with Mr Odinga, whom he accused of attempting to blackmail President Ruto into talks to join the government.

“I want to say here in Nyeri, the land of freedom fighters, that it is not possible for him to come to the government through the back door. There are no constitutional provisions whatsoever to bring Raila Odinga into government,” Mr Gachagua said.

Following his return, Kenyans now expect President Ruto to quell disquiet within his Kenya Kwanza Government following the invasion of retired President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Northlands City farm on Monday where police inaction was evident.

Police were only deployed to the farm, which is located along the Eastern Bypass, Ruiru, almost 24-hours after it was invaded by unknown people.

During the invasion, unknown persons made away with flocks of sheep and also cut down trees in the farm.