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Why Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna boycotted the State of the Nation address

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna says he will boycott President William Ruto’s State of the Nation address on November 9, 2023.

The vocal lawmaker, who is a close ally of opposition leader Raila Odinga, argued that he cannot adhere to the requirement of being silent as the President addresses the Joint-Parliamentary special sitting at the National Assembly.

Sifuna, who doubles as Deputy Minority Whip claimed the Head of State cannot be “trusted to paint the true picture of the State of the Nation”.

“I cannot sit quietly listening to lies. For these reasons and out of respect for the institution of Parliament I shall not attend the State of the Nation address,” said Sifuna in a message on his official X account.

This will be the second State of the Nation Address by President Ruto.

Article 132 (1) of the Constitution states that the President shall address the opening of each newly elected Parliament, and address a special sitting of Parliament once every year and may address Parliament at any other time.

According to the constitution, once every year, the President is expected to report, in an address to the nation, on all the measures taken and the progress achieved in the realisation of the national values.

The Head of State is further expected to submit a report for debate to the National Assembly on the progress made in fulfilling the international obligations of the Republic.

This year’s address comes amidst the ongoing National Dialogue between the government and opposition which seeks to build bridges between the President and Mr Odinga.

The Dialogue came after the opposition called off the weekly anti-government protests which had left scores injured, others dead, and property worth millions of shillings destroyed.

The address comes with President Ruto facing a myriad of challenges including the high cost of living mainly caused by a move to increase taxes and payments imposed on services by the government.