Odinga’s unexpected shift: Dialogue over disruption

NAIROBI, Kenya (Caasimada Online) – In a surprising turn, Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga announced on Sunday that he is calling off the planned “Mega Monday” protest scheduled for April 3.

Instead, he will engage in dialogue with the government after two weeks of chaotic street demonstrations.

The protest’s cancellation came after President William Ruto proposed the creation of a bipartisan parliamentary committee to address concerns over the electoral process.

The opposition, however, reserves the right to resume demonstrations if meaningful engagement is not achieved.

Escalating tensions 

Since anti-government protests erupted on March 20, three people have died. Businesses and properties have been looted, causing alarm among Kenya’s neighbors and allies.

Kenya is considered a stable democracy in a volatile region. International entities such as the United States, Britain, and the African Union have called for restraint and a peaceful resolution to the chaos.

During a nationwide address earlier in the evening, President Ruto urged Odinga and the opposition to work through parliament rather than take to the streets.

“I urge my brother Raila Odinga, and the opposition, to call off the demonstrations and to give this bipartisan approach a chance for us to take the country forward,” Ruto said, imploring Kenyans to remain peaceful and law-abiding.

The struggle for power

Odinga, a five-time presidential election loser, has accused President Ruto of stealing last year’s elections and refuses to recognize him or his government. He recently released new claims that “prove his victory” in the election.

In response to the proposed bipartisan parliamentary committee, Odinga cautiously accepted the offer, stating that his party “reserves the right to call for demonstrations should this process not bear fruit.”

During his press conference, he emphasized the importance of maintaining constitutional rights to assemble, demonstrate, petition, and speak.

However, President Ruto has made it clear that he will not form an alliance with his rival, stressing the importance of preserving accountability and oversight within the government.

“Once you compromise accountability and oversight, you are in much trouble,” Ruto said.

He added that the focus should be on engaging the opposition on issues important to the Kenyan people, ensuring that the system of checks and balances remains intact.

Press freedom under threat

The ongoing unrest has also significantly impacted press freedom, with the Media Council of Kenya reporting at least 25 cases of attacks on journalists “at the hands of state and non-state actors” during the demonstrations.

The United States expressed deep concern about these incidents on Friday, highlighting the importance of safeguarding freedom of the press amid political turmoil.

The international community will closely monitor the situation as Kenya moves towards a possible resolution through dialogue and a bipartisan parliamentary committee.

With the government and the opposition seeking a peaceful end to the chaos, the country’s democratic stability hangs in the balance.