By Our Reporter
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has called off anti-government protests scheduled for today Monday 3rd April, 2023, saying he was ready for negotiations following an appeal from President William Ruto.
Thousands have joined three marches over the past two weeks against high living costs and alleged fraud in last year’s vote. All have been marred by violence, with at least three people killed, 400 wounded and some businesses looted.
Odinga announced on Sunday evening that he was calling off the fourth rally in response to Ruto suggesting that they create a bipartisan parliamentary committee to work through concerns over the electoral process.
The opposition leader, who has disputed Ruto’s victory in 2022, said he saw the president’s statement as an olive branch and a “positive development”.
“We stand down our demonstrations for Monday, that is tomorrow, April 3, 2023. But in doing so, we want to emphasise that the right to assemble, to demonstrate, petition, and speak are iron-clad as provided for in our constitution,” Odinga said at an evening press conference.
However, his party “reserve[s] the right to call for demonstrations should this process not bear fruit”, he said.
The opposition has been pushing for reforms to the electoral commission, including stronger assurances that the president cannot pack the body with supporters.
“We agree that a balanced parliamentary process co-chaired by both sides and backed by experts from outside should proceed,” Odinga said.
If there was “no meaningful engagement or response” from Ruto, the protests would begin again in one week, he said.
Odinga also said that the opposition would engage the government on the high cost of living, which had galvanised many protesters.