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Will it be third time lucky for Raila’s maandamano?

Will it be the third time lucky for Azimio Raila Odinga as he prepares to lead his supporters in a series of protests against President William Ruto?

Mr Odinga has launched what he says is a mass action drive against President Ruto in a bid to protest what he says is his stolen victory in the August 2022 polls, put pressure for the government to lower the cost of living, and stop the recruitment of new commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commision (IEBC).

To this regard, Mr Odinga has unlawfully declared March 20, 2023, as a public holiday in a bid to allow Kenyans to attend what he describes as the ‘mother of all’ public demonstrations in Nairobi.

The move by Mr Odinga, who finished second to President Ruto in the August 2022 polls, has attracted varied reactions.

While some agree with him, others are concerned about the economic impact of the mass action drive.

Mary Otieno, a cleaner at a Nairobi hotel, expressed her reservations about taking a day off work and potentially being fired.

“I have been voting for Baba (read Raila Odinga) since I got my identification card in 2001. I was one of the people who switched to my sim card when he (Raila) asked us to do so in 2017. But this time I don’t think I can be at home just because he said it will be a holiday, how will I feed my children? I agree the economy is bad but if I stop working and they fire me will he give me a place to live in, so no I will not be at home,” said Mary Otieno, a resident of Kibera.

In 2018, Mr Odinga took an unofficial oath as the people’s president in protest over what he said was a stolen election months earlier. This despite boycotting a repeat election as ordered by then-Supreme Court judge David Maraga.

The protests and swearing-in led to behind-the-scenes talks with then-president Uhuru Kenyatta, and a handshake between the duo. A similar spate of protests by Mr Odinga’s supporters during the Kibaki administration led to his appointment as Prime Minister between 2008 and 2013.

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