Religious leaders call for dialogue as Raila’s call for mass action gathers pace

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A cartoon illustration on the current state of the relationship between President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga. Photo courtesy of the Standard Group.

Religious leaders from the Nyanza region have called for dialogue between President William Ruto and Azimio leader, Raila Odinga in order to end political tension in the country.

This is as both political camps continued to exchange words in regard to next Monday’s protests about the cost of living. Yesterday, Ruto told Raila that he will be personally liable for the security of Kenyans and their property during Monday’s mass action.

“We have no problem with you organising demonstrations but please it is your responsibility to work with the police to make sure that the rest of the citizens of Kenya, their lives are not disrupted, their property is not destroyed, their business is not affected and they can go to work (then) you can carry out your demonstrations,” Ruto said. 

President William Ruto presides over Cadet commissioning parade at the military academy in Lanet, Nakuru on March 10, 2023.
Image: PCS

Raila has today landed in Nakuru for a rally in order to test the waters in Ruto’s strongholds. Tomorrow he will be in Kiambu, another of Ruto’s strongholds.

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“Touchdown in Nakuru Town! We are all set and ready for today’s People’s Baraza,” Raila tweeted on Thursday.

National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), Nyanza Regional Chairman, Bishop David Kodia has said the rivalry between the two leaders and their parties was detrimental to peace and cohesion in the country.

Raila Odinga arrives in Nakuru on March 16

Prof. Kodia said the rift between the two leaders was likely to disintegrate the country into chaos, urging President Ruto to take the lead and initiate dialogue to bring on fold all Kenyans, as he moves to roll out his development agenda.

The ongoing demonstrations by Azimio, he said, was a pointer that the country was divided, calling for dialogue and mediation to de-escalate the standoff.

He cautioned the youth against being used by politicians to create tension, urging parents to refrain their children from attending political gatherings and unlawful demonstrations.

Raila heading to his rally in Nakuru

Addressing the media in Kisumu, Tuesday, Prof. Kodia, further appealed to all politicians to avoid confrontational politics in public, to ensure that the gains made in uniting the nation are not eroded.

“What we are witnessing where the country’s top leadership makes indiscriminate statements is unfortunate and must stop,” he said.

NCCK, he said, has committed to keep the church premises safe from political gatherings, calling on all peace actors to rise to the occasion and protect the nation from collapse.

Prof. Kodia further urged the National Assembly and the Executive, to move with speed and lower the cost of basic commodities, to cushion Kenyans against the rising cost of living.

County Governments, he added, must support the initiative through supporting Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs) and the Jua kali, sector to help them recover.

“We are concerned that the high cost of living combined with the effects of Covid-19 containment measures among other factors has exacerbated the country’s rising cases of mental illness and gender-based violence (GBV),” he said.

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