November 23rd 2017

Top Stories / National

Sudden shift in Raila, Ruto tone leaves doubts over October 26 election

That a strategy was behind the suspension was evident in the fact that it came just a day after the Raila team had announced a day off from the protests, to allow the NASA leaders visit its injured supporters in hospital and condole with the families of those who have been killed.

By Free Press Reporternewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comTuesday, 17 Oct 2017 17:22 EAT

Raila addressing a rally at the Mama Ngina Grounds in Mombasa on Sunday.

What does NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga have up his sleeves? This was the question on the lips of savvy political analysts after the former prime minister suddenly suspended the coalition's street demonstrations this morning, just a day after the protests were supposed to have taken an altogether new scale - going daily from the initial two then three times a week.

That a strategy was behind the NASA change of plans was apparent in the fact that the suspension came just a day after the Raila team had announced a one-day suspension of the protests, to allow the NASA leaders time to visit their injured supporters in hospital and condole with the families of those who have been killed.

The leaders did not have any reported visit to hospitals today as the earlier statement by Raila's spokesman Dennis Onyango had indicated. Instead, Raila himself led the coalition to two rallies in Meru County, where his supporters clashed with Jubilee members for nearly an hour, forcing the police to intervene, just before his chopper landed in Laare Town.

Could the former prime minister be halting the demos to give dialogue a chance? Perhaps. The Catholic Church, among other institutions, have called for dialogue between the two sides. And on Sunday, key Jubilee leaders from Central Kenya, among them former Kiambu governor William Kabogo and former Justice Minister Martha Karua, said Uhuru and Raila should engage in talks over the elections.

Unlike the Catholic Church which has not made the type of dialogue it envisages public, the Mt Kenya leaders made it clear that the October 26 election is negotiable. For close associates of President Kenyatta, that was difficult position to take without the president's blessings, according to a source close to Jubilee Party leaders.

This morning, shortly after Raila announced the suspension of the demos, deputy president William Ruto, speaking at his Karen home, said the Jubilee Party was open to dialogue over NASA's demands for reforms in the electoral commission.

While Ruto gave a rider that any potential changes would not come with a change in the election date, implying that IEBC meeting of NASA demands should come after the election, analysts were left wondering why the DP, who has been a hardliner against NASA's call for reforms in IEBC, even mentioned the two subjects, in a markedly radical departure from his position.

The Standard Digital, reporting on Ruto's statement, said, "His statement today is therefore being seen as a shift from his hardline stance." Just why the DP changed his stance remains to be seen as the clock ticks towards the October 26 deadline.

Below is Raila's statement announcing the suspension:

 

NASA TO HONOUR MURDERED SUPPORTERS ON MASHUJAA DAY:

The National Super Alliance remains deeply disturbed by the continued murder and brutalization of supporters especially in Western Kenya; the latest victim being a high school student murdered yesterday in Kisumu.

The murders that have occurred during recent protests, together with those committed immediately after August elections were clearly premeditated and carefully planned to annihilate the people and make them accept a stolen election as a fait accompli.

The latest killings exposed the ugly face of the alliance between the legitimate security organs and militia armed and dressed by the State to subdue people seeking free, fair and credible elections.

The Inspector General of Police Mr. Joseph Boinnet and Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiangi are facilitating gangs on drugs and security officers fed with divisive propaganda and ethnic bigotry to execute a murderous expedition against unarmed and innocent civilians.

It is getting increasingly clearer that President Uhuru Kenyatta is hell-bent on continuing the historical political alienation, deprivation, brutalization and psychological traumatization of sections of the Kenyan society opposed to fraudulent and dictatorial leadership.

We stand with our supporters and all Kenyans in their legitimate struggles for free, fair and credible elections and a leadership that is in line with their aspirations.

NASA demands the immediate stop of this murderous experiment that will prove to be very ill-advised and costly for this country. The government must stop this alliance between thugs and security officers and the unconstitutional and reckless deployment of troops to annihilate NASA supporters.

NASA is exploring means to hold Mr. Boinnet, Mr. Matiangi and individual officers personally responsible for the murders.

We continue to appeal to all human rights organizations to stand with the people of Kenya against a murderous regime and press the Jubilee government to respect the constitution and stop the murders.

In honour of the innocent victims of the State, our protests will stay suspended. On Friday, we will mark the memory of these victims as heroes of the struggle for electoral justice at a venue to be disclosed later. On that day, we shall communicate our next course of action.

Rt. Hon Raila Odinga
October 17, 2017

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