Azimio La Umoja leader, Raila Odinga, on Wednesday, June 7, warned of an imminent return of nationwide protests.
Speaking at Chungwa House after meeting Abagusii leaders, Raila argued that the government, headed by President William Ruto, had turned a deaf ear to Kenyans' plight, leaving the opposition with no alternative but to return to the streets.
He further accused Ruto of riding on the hustler narrative euphoria during campaigns and quickly discarding it after assuming the presidency.
“This government identified themselves as hustlers who were in tune with mama mbogas, boda bodas and jua kali. Why have they changed their language now?” the former prime minister posed.
Raila remarked that the real hustlers were tired of the continually rising cost of living and were ready to dissent.
“With fellow Azimio principals, we will on Thursday, June 8, give way forward regarding the controversial Finance Bill, 2023,” he stated.
He argued that the Head of State's policies contained in the Finance Bill 2023 did not solve problems afflicting the Kenyan population but compounded them.
Raila cited the high maize flour prices noting that Ruto, who had promised to lower the cost immediately after he assumed office, was still rising alongside the crucial oil prices.
“He (Ruto) promised that once he puts the Bible down, the price of Unga would drop from Ksh200 to Ksh70.
“They are now tabling a Finance Bill. Leave alone the housing levy. If implemented, there are other taxes in that Bill will make the cost-of-living skyrocket,” Raila explained, justifying the need for public action.
As a result, he warned that should parliamentarians pass the Bill unamended, the opposition would swing into action and take their grievances to the streets.
“The government will present the Bill to parliament on Thursday, June 8, and subsequently read the budget on Thursday, June 15. If they pass the Finance Bill, we will hold demonstrations in every corner of the country,” he cautioned.
The passing of Finance Bill 2023, and the subsequent 2023/2024 budget is a key milestone in Ruto's plan to stabilise the economy and lower the cost of living.
According to the state, the Finance Bill aims to raise funds to implement Ruto's manifesto on affordable housing, industrialisation and agriculture.
The Thursday, June 15, budget reading will be Ruto's first since assuming office. Kenya has been using funds allocated in the 2022/2023 financial year allocated by former President Uhuru Kenyatta's administration.
If the former Prime Minister goes through with his threats, his announcement will mark the return of the protests two months after he called off demonstrations in line with the bipartisan talks with the national government.
On Sunday, April 2, Raila Odinga called off demos to allow dialogue between the opposition and government facilitated by a parliamentary bipartisan committee.
Nearly two months later, on Wednesday, May 31, Azimio suspended the talks indefinitely, citing a lack of goodwill from their Kenya Kwanza counterparts.