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Global AddisKenyans protest—why?

Kenyans protest—why?

Nairobi Airport appeared deserted on March 22, 2023. It was just the Ethiopian Airlines-owned aircraft that was delivering passengers from Addis Ababa to Nairobi. Airport employees do not appear to be as busy as they formerly were. The queue at the passport checkpoint is not as long as it once was. Whether it’s in the luggage claim area or the area where people welcome passengers, a few people are waiting for the person for whom they are waiting. Taxis are desperate for customers.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, which has been exacerbated by the European conflict, being one cause contributing to the aviation sector’s slowdown, Kenya’s situation is a little different. It is the result of an ongoing protest against the government of the country’s newly elected leader, Willima Ruto, alleging “economic mismanagement, corruption, and electoral fraud.”

Raila Odinga, who ran against Ruto in Kenya’s latest election in August, is leading the protest. Odinga, a 78-year-old Kenyan politician who served as Prime Minister of Kenya from 2008 to 2013, disagrees with the election results. Odinga ran in the election as a candidate for the Azimio La Umoja political party. The Azimio, under Odinga, not only contested the election results but also appealed to the Supreme Court.

Yet, contrary to his expectations, the Supreme Court denied his petition, ruling that there was insufficient evidence to determine that there was electoral fraud. Ruto’s victory was upheld by the court.

Odinga had previously stated that he would follow the Supreme Court’s rulings, but he has just made a new claim. Odinga claims to have won the election, citing an Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) whistleblower. Odinga, who claims he received 8.1 million votes to Ruto’s 5.9 million, wants the IEBC server unlocked to contest the final result, which decided President Ruto received 7.1 million votes to Odinga’s 6.9 million votes.

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While the election outcome is one of the reasons for the latest demonstration in Kenya, the continuous process of recruiting IEBC commissioners is the second issue that has prompted Odinga and his followers to protest.

Odinga is dissatisfied with the president’s decision to elect new commissioners completely on his own. He requested that the recruitment cease. If the recruitment process is allowed to be continued this way, voter apathy might happen in the election to be held in 2027. Voters would be disinterested from exercising their democratic right to elect a new leader if Ruto is allowed to recruit the commissioners by his own, unchecked.

Another source of worry for Odinga is the growing cost of living in Kenya. The high cost of living has been a cause of concern for a great number of Kenyans, as evidenced by the fact that a great number of households are having difficulty making a decent living. In Kenya, where the year-over-year consumer price index reached 9.2 percent in February 2023, high food and fuel prices, rising taxes, and a weak currency are believed to be factors fueling inflation.

This is unacceptable to Odinga, who blames the Kwanza Alliance Administration under Ruto for failing to stem the rise in the cost of living despite seven months in power. He wanted Ruto to restart the subsidies the government was giving but had discontinued at the time when Uhuru Kenyatta was in office.

Odinga accused the government for the high price of staples such as maize flour, which has contributed to the high rate of inflation. Ruto, however, stated that measures are being taken to reduce inflationary pressure and that his administration is making efforts to lower the price of the locally known Unga flour from Sh100 per kilogram to Sh70 per kilogram.

Ruto also committed to solving the FX shortfall plaguing the economy and is regarded as one of the major drivers of inflationary pressure. He vowed that the scarcity will be eliminated in a matter of weeks and emphasized that his government is implementing new measures to eliminate the shortage.

Ruto stated, “I want to assure those in Kenya who were facing challenges in accessing dollars that we have taken steps to ensure its availability, and the next couple of weeks are going to be different because our fuel companies will now be paying for fuel in Kenya shillings,” Ruto said. As the issue is not merely economic but also political, it seems unlikely that the president’s assurance will prevent protestors from voicing their grievances in the coming week.

As a result of the demonstration during last Monday, one student was killed and more than 200 were detained.

“Fellow Kenyans, in the second phase of our protest, and in response to public demand, we shall now hold the protests every Monday and Thursday beginning next week,” Odinga announced on Tuesday while addressing journalists at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation in Nairobi.

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Video from Enat Bank Youtube Channel.

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