Kenyan opposition leader calls off anti-government protests
Raila Odinga, leader of the Kenyan opposition party
Raila Odinga, leader of the Kenyan opposition party "Orange Democracy Movement". /VCG

Raila Odinga, leader of the Kenyan opposition party "Orange Democracy Movement". /VCG

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga announced Sunday he was calling off a protest on Monday and would embark on dialogue with the government after two weeks of chaotic street demonstrations.

Three people have died and properties and businesses been looted since anti-government protests erupted on March 20, alarming neighbours and allies of a country seen as a stable democracy in a volatile region.

Odinga, who has accused President William Ruto of stealing last year's elections, had called for protests twice a week and warned "Mega Monday" on April 3 would see his supporters "take back the country".

But on the eve of the march Odinga announced he was calling it off, after Ruto suggested they create a bipartisan parliamentary committee to work through concerns over the electoral process.

"We stand down our demonstrations for Monday, that is tomorrow, April 3, 2023. But in doing so, we want to emphasize that the right to assemble, to demonstrate, petition, and speak are iron-clad as provided for in our constitution," Odinga told reporters in an evening press conference.

However his party "reserve the right to call for demonstrations should this process not bear fruit", he said.

"Should there be no meaningful engagement or response from Hon. (Honourable) Ruto to our counter-offer, we resolve to resume our demonstrations after one week."

In a nationwide address earlier in the evening, Ruto earlier appealed for Odinga to work through parliament, not the street.

"I urge my brother Raila Odinga, and the opposition, to call off the demonstrations, and to give this bipartisan approach a chance for us to take the country forward," he said, urging Kenyans to remain peaceful and law abiding.

Source(s): AFP

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