The head of Kenya’s primary opposition coalition, Raila Odinga, has expressed his willingness to engage in discussions with the Kenyan government despite the continued protests demanding tax reductions and an evaluation of the previous year’s elections that made William Ruto the President. As per a statement issued by Odinga’s Azimio coalition on Monday, the protests have so far resulted in the deaths of at least 50 people. The country’s manufacturing sector is said to be losing around $18 million daily due to the ongoing civil unrest.
Odinga communicated his readiness for talks in Nairobi on Tuesday, while criticizing President Ruto’s inaction towards resolving the crisis. He further mentioned that efforts by Tanzanian President Suluhu Hassan to mediate talks had been unfruitful thus far.
The opposition protests had been momentarily halted in April when the government agreed to initiate discussions with the opposition. However, the introduction of new taxes this month, including a two-fold increase in the value-added tax on fuel, led to the resumption of protests.
Odinga criticized the government’s choice of burdening the citizens with additional taxes, suggesting that it could have instead pursued debt relief measures, which would include the reorganization of its domestic and foreign debts, to bolster its financial condition.