Azimio’s Raila rejects invite by Ruto for talks

Written by on 28 July 2023

Azimio La Umoja leader Raila Odinga yesterday turned down an invitation by President William Ruto to a discussion table to solve the political impasse witnessed in the country after rounds of anti-government protests called by the Opposition.

Raila said the President was not serious about the dialogue adding that the Head of State was playing games about the talks and engaging in public relations exercise.

“The President is not being serious. If he wants to meet me, he cannot invite me through Whatsapp or social media (twitter). He knows my address and my phone number,” Raila said.

He claimed that the President has constantly frustrated efforts by Azimio to find a truce after protests to push the government to address various issues key among them the high cost of living.

“We had agreed to form a joint team to carry out negotiations on the contentious issues. As soon as the temperatures cooled down, they backed off and the talks stalled. I don’t believe Ruto is serious at all,” he said in an interview with Aljazeera.

“He is engaging in double speak. On one side when there is tension, he speaks nicely saying that he is ready for talks any time. The other time, when things cool off he claims that Mr Odinga and his group want a handshake so that they can have a share of the cake. And we have said we don’t want any kind of a cake.”

In what appeared to be extending an olive branch to the Opposition, the President Ruto tweeted on Tuesday night that he was ready to meet the Raila for talks any time and at his convenience.

“My friend @RailaOdinga, I’m off to Tanzania for a human capital meeting to harmonise the expansion of employment opportunities in our continent. I’m back tomorrow evening, and as you have always known, I’m available to meet one on one with you anytime at your convenience. WsR,” Ruto wrote on his Twitter handle.

Ruto was reacting after Raila revealed that the President was a no-show in a cease-fire meeting that was to be mediated by Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu who had jetted into the country two days earlier at what the Azimio brigade claimed to be the Kenyan Head of State’s invitation.

Mediation talks

State House has since denied claims by the Azimio leader that President Ruto invited his Tanzanian counterpart to the country for mediation talks between the government and the Opposition.

State House Spokesperson Hussein Mohamed yesterday said that there was no official documentation to confirm the said visit as per the established protocols guiding any visit by the Head of State.

Meanwhile, earlier yesterday the Opposition led by Raila, former Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria, Democratic Action Party-Kenya (DAP-K) leader Eugene Wamalwa, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka and former Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and a host of legislators visited two major hospitals in Nairobi — Mama Lucy and Kenyatta National Hospital to console victims who have been hospitalised after being injured in the anti-government protests.

The visit culminated with keeping vigil and lighting

candles at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation in honour of protestors who died during the demonstrations during which the names of both the dead and injured protestors were read.

So far Azimio estimates that 67 protestors were injured while 36 died from police brutality.

However, National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi said that there could be more victims who are either dead, injured or missing who are not captured in their statistics.

“The names we have published are only for those victims we have been able to document so far. There are a lot more people that have lost their lives in the hands of police whose names we are yet to document,” Wandayi said. “There a lot more people who have been injured and are lying in their homes or in hospitals whose details have not been documented. There are equally a lot more people who remain unaccounted for and in fullness of time we shall have a clearer picture. This is work in progress.”

Commit autrocities

Wandayi called on President Ruto saying that his regime was the first to commit such atrocities on its citizens after the colonial era. “The kind of cruelty exhibited by people calling themselves state agencies is something that was never witnessed even in the dark moments of our colonial history. No matter how long it takes, those who are responsible for these unfortunate and premature deaths shall be held to account. This warning should go out to President William Ruto and his surrogates that Kenyans shall not rest ease until the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are eventually brought to book,” the Unguja MP said.

Likoni MP Mishi Mboko accused the government of what she called disrespecting the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution while dealing with protestors

Mboko said it was devastating to see over 50 youth being tortured and gunned down by their fellow Kenyans (police) who are paid with their taxes adding that it was a mockery for elected leaders to hail the police for a job well done-after killing Kenyans.

During the vigil, Azimio accused Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki for orchestrating the police brutality against their supporters who participated in the protests adding that despite calling off the protests, yesterday the police were on high alert to forcefully disperse protestors.

“Interior Cabinet Secretary Prof Kithure Kindiki seems to love that brutality and takes pride in it. He had offered more and heavier dose of brutality and gunfire today (yesterday) despite our announcement that we would only be holding vigils in honour of the victims,” Azimio la Umoja said in a statement that was read by Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka.

The opposition told the government that they will pursue justice for both the injured and the dead protestors.

 “We will pursue justice locally and internationally for these injured and slain heroes. These people who have been shot in cold blood in cold July are heroes and patriots,” Musyoka said.

Azimio claimed that the government plans to keep the plight of the victims in total secrecy so that the actual number of injuries and fatalities is not known.

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