- Ruto who has previously insisted that he cannot be threatened by mass action, could ignore the opposition chief and allow him to proceed with his plans.
- A response from security forces could lead to a confrontation between Azimio supporters and police with possible arrests and chaotic scenes likely.
President William Ruto faces at least four options in dealing with opposition leader Raila Odinga over his planned mass action.
There are fears that the veteran opposition leader's anti-government protests could dent the President's global brand and also trigger an economic crisis if he resorts to street protests.
With Raila expected to make a major public pronouncement on Thursday about his action plan, there is palpable anxiety among Kenyans over mass action.
With President Ruto under pressure from a combined force from Raila and immediate former President Uhuru Kenyatta, his administration faces tough options in the coming days.
Ruto who has previously insisted that he cannot be threatened by mass action, could ignore the opposition chief and allow him to proceed with his plans.
However, this option could be risky as mass action could degenerate into street protests that could lead to destruction of property and grounding of the economy.
A response from security forces could lead to a confrontation between Azimio supporters and police with possible arrests and chaotic scenes likely.
“The President may not have the luxury of time and advantage of power when things go south, but he can ignore Raila,” said political analysts Alexander Nyamboga.
“Raila knows how to thrive in chaotic scenes and this would give him momentum.”
Ruto has another option of employing divide and rule to reach out to some of the Azimio bigwigs like Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka or Narc Kenya boss Martha Karua.
The strategy would mean that Raila will be isolated and deflate in his push for mass action.
Political analysts and university don Lawrence Muiruri says this option would be one of the smartest ones to dent Raila's image.
“If Ruto manages to grab some of the key leaders in Azimio like Kalonzo and Karua then that will narrow the protests into a Luo or ODM affair, something that will not work well for Raila,” Muiruri said.
Ruto's allies have previously accused Raila of being the father of street protests and a politician determined to ruin businesses and the economy.
However, another political analyst, Erastus Mwenda opines that Ruto's viable option would be to seek talks with Raila and broker a political truce.
“Raila thrives in chaos, that is not the route that Ruto may want to take this country at a time when he is under pressure to steady the economy,” said Mwenda.
The President can also decide to find peace with his former boss and ally turned political enemy Uhuru Kenyatta to steady the country.
The decision would mean that Uhuru will come to the aid of the Kenya Kwanza administration to offer much-needed political support against Raila's offensive.
“It would be better if Ruto handled political war from one front, multiple wars from both Uhuru and Raila would cripple the economy and offer Azimio firepower,” Mwenda said.
The president's steps in the next few days will be of much public interest with Raila expected to make a pronouncement about his mass action plans on Thursday.
Raila is said to be marshalling various groups and his grassroots political wing for mass action amid reports that there is an elaborate plan to lead his supporters to the State House.
The opposition coalition is also said to be planning to stage demonstrations in major towns across the country.
Raila has been meeting different interest groups drawn from political parties and religious organisations as he seeks to fire up his support base for the planned protests against “electoral fraud”.