• Raila and his Azimio brigades are already marshaling their supporters in different parts of the country to engage in protest against President Ruto’s government.
• He urged elected leaders from Nyanza to focus on development as the region is under-developed because of bad representation.
Luo elders have called on President William Ruto to reach out to Azimio leader Raila Odinga for dialogue to avert the planned countrywide protests by the opposition.
Raila has threatened to lead opposition supporters to protest against the rising cost of living and electoral injustice from Monday next week. They have also threatened to stage sit-ins at government offices.
The elders on Saturday said dialogue between Ruto and Raila is the only way Kenyans can remain peaceful and end the political stalemate that is likely to paralyse government operations.
Outspoken were the Luo Council of Elders led by chairman Nyandiko Ongadi, chairman for the Homa Bay chapter Ariko Adoyo and vice chairman George Mijumbe.
They asked President Ruto and Raila to talk and agree on how to address the challenges facing Kenyans.
Raila and his Azimio brigades are already marshaling their supporters around the country to engage to protest against Ruto’s government.
The opposition leaders have already set March 20 as the day for the official start of demos against the Kenya Kwanza government due to the high cost of living.
Raila has also claimed that the August 9 presidential election results were manipulated in favour of President Ruto.
The Azimio leadership is also calling for their supporters to boycott certain products from companies they associate with the Kenya Kwanza government.
But Luo elders want Raila and President Ruto to reach out to each other so they can end the stalemate.
Ongadi argued that the issues should be addressed for Kenyans to get development.
“As elders, we stand for peace and we don’t want to see the country in turmoil. Let President Ruto and Azimio leader Raila meet and dialogue about the conflicting issues ,” Ongadi said
Speaking on Saturday after their meeting in Homa Bay town, Ongadi said the planned protest will slow down economy growth in the near future.
He challenged elected leaders from Luo Nyanza to focus on after elections on grounds that the region is under-developed because of bad representation.
“Ruto had been declared the President and what our elected leaders should do is to work with him closely so that we can develop the community. I don’t see protests and demos making us succeed,” he said.
The elders said 60 years since Independence Luos community has played opposition politics as youths engage in protests which have ended in chaos.
Raila who hails from the community has much support and residents follow what he says.
The elders, however, said that protests will not bring any development to the region, rather it will drive away investors.
Adoyo appealed to youths in Homa Bay to stay away from protests because they are likely to paralyse the county.
We urge Raila to have negotiation with President Ruto. What is the need of engaging people in protest when we know well it will not take us anywhere?Luo Council of Elders chairman George Mijumbe
The elders argued that protests have never ended well but have caused chaos.
He asked Raila to lead other Azimio leaders in having discussions with President Ruto instead of protest. Other elders present were Owuor Akede, Elisha Opiyo, Samuel Ogada, Wilson Odhiambo, Nicholas Otieno, and Wilson Wamoya, among others.
“Protests have never provided solutions but dialogue can work. Raila held dialogues with Presidents Moi, Kibaki and Uhuru. Why not with Ruto now? Adoyo asked.
Elders recommended negotiations for the sake of peace. They proposed selected MPs to lead the process.
Mjumbe said negotiations between the government and the opposition have worked in the past.
“We urge Raila to have negotiation with President Ruto. What is the need of engaging people in protest when we know well it will not take us anywhere?” Mjumbe asked.
(Edited by V. Graham)