Raila Odinga, leader of the opposition party in Kenya, is facing intense pressure ahead of planned mass protests against President William Ruto’s government and the high cost of living in the country.
According to sources, members of the international and diplomatic community are pressuring Raila to drop the protests. During a meeting with MPs from Luo Nyanza, Raila confessed to feeling the pressure and being in a catch-22 situation.
“Let me tell you, Raila is under so much pressure. He shared with us what he has been going through and we were shocked. Now he is in a catch-22 situation,” an MP who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter told People Daily.
However, his fellow MPs urged him to proceed with the protests.
The government has given firm instructions to security chiefs not to interfere with the protests as long as they remain peaceful and participants do not break any laws. Regional and county police commanders have been directed to allow the protests to go ahead but to prevent any gatherings that might incite violence or destruction of property.
President Ruto has assured Kenyans that they have nothing to worry about concerning the planned protests. However, he has been working to weaken and isolate Raila in his strongholds by courting Raila’s allies with promises of development goodies. Ruto has been receiving delegations from opposition zones at State House, with the leaders distancing themselves from the protests and promising to work with the government.
The President has reportedly made inroads in Western, where he has won the support of opposition governors. He has also employed some churches to pressure Raila to back down from the protests.
Raila has been asked by the National Council of Churches of Kenya to engage in dialogue with Ruto to forestall the escalation of ongoing protests. The Kisii Catholic Diocese Bishop has also urged Raila to call off the demonstrations and engage the government through dialogue and round-table negotiations.
As the pressure on Raila intensifies, it remains to be seen whether he will proceed with the protests or engage the government in dialogue.