End protests and hold talks for Kenya to move forward - Raila

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Odinga emphasised that key issues such as employment, discrimination, corruption, and gender inequality must be addressed through comprehensive dialogue.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has called for an end to the nationwide anti-government protests noting that the country needs leadership to address pressing issues and move forward.

The demonstrations, with Gen Z as the majority of the participants started about four weeks ago, as the National Assembly processed the Finance Bill of 2024, which the public rejected primarily because of proposed higher taxes. The protests escalated, forcing President William Ruto to withdraw the bill.

Currently, the public is holding protests for Ruto to resign.

Odinga, leader of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), called on Tuesday for broader engagement to allow citizens to express their concerns and collaboratively find a way forward.

“There have been highs and lows in our country for 61 years and we need to move forward. We require a wider engagement where people have a wider opportunity to vomit all that is in their chests to find a way forward. Kenya deserves better,” he said.

“Last year, we lost 75 precious lives. This year, we have lost another over 40 lives. We must prevent this from happening in our country. We should not allow this to continue happening secretly. Let us find a lasting solution to this problem. We are ready to engage so that we find a solution to this problem.”

Odinga emphasised that key issues such as employment, discrimination, corruption, and gender inequality must be addressed through comprehensive dialogue.

Odinga spoke at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi on Tuesday, as Ruto signed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2024. The bill is the first of the nine products of the National Dialogue Committee (NADCO) Report.

The ODM boss explained that he and Ruto's agreement to engage in dialogue led to the creation of the NADCO report, which highlights numerous issues central to the Kenyan people. If the report is fully implemented, issues raised by youths will be addressed, he promised.

“We are at a crossroads as a country and times like this need leadership. My brother William Ruto and I agreed to dialogue and that's how NADCO was created. The NADCO report highlighted very many issues," he said.

He added, "This bill that has been signed into law today, is just one of those. Most of the issues raised by the youths are contained in the NADCO report. If this report is implemented fully, it will be able to address all these issues."

The opposition chief added that addressing the challenges within the IEBC was also a critical step towards solving many other national problems.

“I think it is possible to address these issues if there is a will to do it. If we find a way to address the issue of the IEBC, it will be the way to resolve very many issues in our country,” he said.

The ODM party leader also criticised the division within the 2022 IEBC electoral commission, noting that it was a source of national embarrassment, which led to confusion and undermined public trust.

“The whole world was turned when the electoral commission was divided, some saying one thing, others the other. I might be happy that some ruled in my favour but what example are we showing the world as a country - That in the process of a very important exercise, the electoral commission is divided, and nobody knows whom to believe? Shame to us,” he said.

While stressing the importance of presenting a united front, especially in matters as significant as national elections, he called for the appointment of competent people who can restore the commission's credibility and unify the country.

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