The Cord alliance on Friday gave the government a 10-day ultimatum to convene a national dialogue conference to avoid the planned Saba Saba rally on July 7.
Speaking as he took his nationwide rallies to Eldoret, opposition leader Raila Odinga said he would not be cowed by threats of arrest following recent summons by police of his colleagues for alleged hate speech.
He told President Uhuru Kenyatta to heed his call for the dialogue.
“Nduguyangu, njootuongeemapema, naonamawinguyametanda. Fanyahalahalatusinyeshewe (My brother, let’s have early dialogue as the clouds are gathering. Hurry so that we are not caught in the rain),” appealed Mr Odinga to loud cheers from the huge crowd at Eldoret’s 64 Stadium.
“Today is the 27th and there are 10 days to Saba Saba. Let us dialogue or else,” said Mr Odinga as the crowd chanted “Saba Saba, all we want is liberation!”
Mr Odinga said it was the constitutional right of Kenyans to hold rallies and Cord would not be intimidated.
The Eldoret rally went ahead after police backed down on an earlier ban. They had cited the likelihood of violence.
Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago had also tried to block the rally.
Narrating a history of Kenya’s “second liberation” campaign that started in 1990 against President Daniel arap Moi’s single-party regime, Mr Odinga warned that history would repeat itself unless the government agrees to a national dialogue.
He also urged President Kenyatta to implement the recommendations of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission and tackle historical land injustices.
“I and retired President Kibaki signed the report and recommendations. It is pointless for the President to shelve it. It is time the report is implemented,” said Mr Odinga.
He castigated what he said was Jubilee’s unmet promises, citing the schools laptop project, high cost of agricultural inputs, insecurity, youth unemployment and cost of living.
“This government has failed to protect Kenyans and their property. All we have is rampant corruption that has derailed the economy,” said Mr Odinga.
He added it was ridiculous to pay over Sh1 billion to “crooks” while over Sh16 billion was in foreign accounts.
Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula accused the government of failing the electorate. “Jubilee has breached the social contract they signed with the people. If leaders cannot lead, those they lead can lead,” he said in reference to the impending Saba Saba demonstrations.
He further said no amount of intimidation or threats would stop Cord from holding rallies.
Siaya Senator James Orengo said they Cord leaders were not afraid of arrest when championing the rights of Kenyans.
“We have a constitutional right to hold meetings anywhere, including in Eldoret. President Kenyatta has to agree to a national dialogue not as a matter of choice but in accordance with the law and Constitution,” he declared.
He dismissed President Kenyatta’s an invitation to Mr Odinga “for a cup of tea”, saying if the President wants to offer “a cup of tea,” then he should extend the invitation to the 40 million Kenyans.
He added that it was cowardly for the government to resort to intimidation by arresting opposition members.
“We dialogued with President Moi while fighting for the second liberation and no amount of detention or torture will scare us from championing the rights of Kenyans,” he said.
KALONZO IN COALITION TO STAY
Meanwhile, Cord co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka arrived in the country on Friday and declared he was in the coalition to stay.
Speaking soon after arrival from China, Mr Musyoka said he was committed to Cord and would be seeking a presidential ticket under the coalition in the 2017 election.
“I know Kenyans always wish me well but no one should wish me well by saying that I am joining Jubilee. People should talk about more serious issues,” he said.
He dismissed claims that he had deliberately skipped the opposition’s rallies, saying he was in touch with the leadership while away.
Mr Musyoka said he would join Cord leaders for rallies in Kisumu, Kajiado, Nakuru and later Nairobi.
“Kenyans must accept diverse opinions and Cord is not causing disunity by pushing for their interests. If you are anti-dialogue then you are pro-violence,” he said.
He criticised some leaders in Ukambani who he said rode on the Cord euphoria to get elected but turned around and started undermining him.
He revealed that he had been approached by the Cyprus government and agreed to serve as their consul in Kenya.
In Eldoret, Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama asked the government to account for the Sh28 billion laptop project, among other “corruption related projects” instead of demanding that they record statements over their remarks during rallies.
Homabay Senator Otieno Kajwang said it was “an act of impunity” to ban Cord from holding rallies in certain parts of the country.
Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo said the government had failed in its responsibility of protecting Kenyans and they were ready to pay a price including arrests to liberate Kenyans.
Reports by Barnabas Bii, Arthur Situma and Ouma Wanzala