Ruto urges Raila to call off demos

Ruto urges Raila to call off demos

President William speaks at State House, Nairobi, on March 23, 2023. | FILE/PCS

President William Ruto on Sunday urged opposition leader Raila Odinga to call off the ongoing anti-government protests which were set to enter the fourth day on Monday.

In a televised address from State House, Nairobi, the Head of State said he had listened to the opposition's demands, among which has been a halt to the ongoing recruitment of commissioners to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

"I have listened to the issues raised by my friend, the Honorable Raila Odinga, in times like these, it is not about who is right or who is wrong," he said.

"On the reconstitution of the future electoral commission, the selection panel that is currently in office is a creation of the law that was passed by the two chambers of  Parliament... However, considering the matters raised by our friends in the opposition, I suggest a bipartisan engagement by Parliament within the parameters of the law and the constitution," he added.

On assembling of the new IEBC, the opposition has been accusing President Ruto of reconstituting the electoral commission "without consulting other stakeholders and interested parties."

The Head of State suggested that through the bipartisan parliamentary process, the IEBC selection panel and the future recruitment of its commissioners could yield "constitutionally and legally-binding proposals."

"My suggestion is that this matter can be handled by parliament so that we can agree on what the issue is and we can adjust as agreed and as necessary," Ruto, who was flanked by his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, said.

Noting that the protests over the last two weeks have led to the killing three people, including a police officer, and injuring at least 400 others, Ruto said: "I urge my brother Raila Odinga to call off the demonstrations and  to give this bipartisan approach a chance to take this country forward."

Other issues the opposition has raised with the Kenya Kwanza administration include lowering the cost of living, alleged electoral malpractice and vote-rigging in the 2022 General Election as well as what they see as purported discrimination in State appointments.

The opposition leader was himself set to address a press conference shortly after the president's speech.


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