Raila calls off anti-government protests, but with a caveat
The Azimio La Umoja One Kenya coalition leader made the announcement in a press address at his Capitol Hill office in Nairobi.
It came just hours after President William Ruto's address in which he called on the opposition leader to do so and give way for a bipartisan parliamentary process in the recruitment of commissioners to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which is one of the issues the opposition had raised with President Ruto's administration.
Odinga said the Azimio camp is ready for dialogue that will address the key issues they have raised.
According to the opposition leader, the decision to call off the protests came after wide consultations, including with religious leaders.
"William Ruto has issued what I regard as an important statement, we have met and listened to a lot of people, including religious leaders, they have implored us to give dialogue a chance," he said.
"We acknowledge the olive branch on dialogue, this is a positive development. We agree to a balanced parliamentary proceed co-chaired by both sides, this committee must be done immediately, including all arrests and prosecution related to demos."
At the same time, Odinga stated that the Azimio camp is prepared to resume protests if "no meaningful outcome" is reached within a week.
"We emphasize that rights to assemble are anchored in our constitution, we reserve our rights to call for demos if there is no meaningful outcome. We will resume after one week," he added.
Among the issues the Azimio camp wants to be addressed are electoral justice, high cost of living, attacks on media, attacks on democracy as well as the alleged 'buying' of MPs.
On the assembling of a new IEBC, the opposition has been accusing President Ruto of reconstituting the electoral commission "without consulting other stakeholders and interested parties."
Azimio further issued a raft of conditions President William Ruto's administration should meet going forward with the dialogue, such as unconditional release and withdrawal of charges against any Azimio supporter on activities around the demonstrations.
The coalition also called on the reinstatement of the four IEBC commissioners sacked after disowning the 2022 General Election results that saw William Ruto announced president-elect.
Further, the opposition said addressing the high cost of living is an irreducible minimum, and called upon the government to go back to the subsidies applied by President Uhuru Kenyatta's regime to cushion Kenyans from the biting cost of living.
Azimio said they're ready to embrace dialogue and engage Ruto's team towards a peaceful resolution to the problems facing the country, beginning as early as Monday.
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