We have no plans to storm State House, Raila says ahead of protests
The Azimio la Umoja–One Kenya Coalition Party, led by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, has clarified its plans for the countrywide protests scheduled for Monday, March 20, 2023.
In a Saturday interview, Odinga stated that the demonstrations would be peaceful and that just a small number of coalition members would present the coalition’s memorandum to the State House or Harambee House, depending on where the President would be.
He claimed that the alliance had officially informed the police, through the former governor of Kakamega, Wycliffe Oparanya, of their plans to stage protests throughout the nation.
“Wycliffe Oparanya wrote to the Inspector General of Police informing him that we would hold a rally. Those who will be able to come to Nairobi will come to Nairobi and those unable will hold their meetings wherever they will be,” he said.
“It will be peaceful protests and they have the memorandum which they will take to different government offices. Here in Nairobi, we also have the memos which we are going to take to the President. If he will be in Harambee House, we will take the memos there; if he will be in State House; we will send people to take it there; not the crowd. We will send a message through a few people to take our petition to the President; not the whole crowd,” he added.
Raila also denied rumors that he intended to break the law or create havoc at the State House.
“We are not going there as invaders or intruders. We are going there as citizens who have a right to express our views and grievances,” he said.
While State House is a protected area, Odinga quelled his followers’ concerns about trespassing by stating that under the Constitution, every Kenyan should be permitted to visit the property as it is a public office.
He did mention that, in the event that entry was denied, the chosen team would leave a message for the Head of State at the State House entrance.
“State House is a public institution where you can go any time; it is not private. It is not that it is a protected area where the public cannot access; it is the office of the president,” Odinga emphasized.
“We will send people to deliver the letter. If they are allowed to enter; they will enter. If not; they will leave it at the gate.”
On his decision to stage protests rather than personally approach the Head of State, Odinga accused President Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua of being conceited and looking down on the opposition leaders.
He emphasized that the protests would continue even after Monday until the concerns were resolved because the administration had not responded to their complaints within the initial 14-day deadline.