Kenya’s main opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader Raila Odinga has said he is ready for talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta, but pointed out that they should be on a free and fair election and not a coalition government.
Mr Odinga made the remarks as he announced the suspension of the anti-Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) demonstrations.
He said the National Super Alliance will, instead, hold public rallies from Wednesday to explain to its supporters why a fresh presidential election should not be held on October 26 as planned by the IEBC.
He said his team is ready for dialogue “as soon as yesterday” as long as the meeting is on how a free and credible election can be conducted in line with the Supreme Court orders, and not on forming a coalition government.
“The impression that has been created is that it is me who wants nusu mkate (power sharing),” he said.
This was in reference to claims by the Jubilee leadership that the Nasa protests were a ploy aimed at ensuring that Mr Odinga and his colleagues are included in a coalition government as was the case after the 2007/2008 post-election violence.
“I have never called Mr Kenyatta to demand a coalition government. Such claims are, therefore, preposterous.
“If it is a free, fair and credible election, I am ready at any time. Nasa wants to form the government. We want a full loaf because we earned it. We won the August 8 election,” he said at Wilson Airport in Nairobi.
In central Meru County, the coalition’s anti-IEBC rally was marred by protests from rival youths, leading to its cancellation.
Tension ran high throughout the day as Jubilee and Nasa supporters clashed ahead of the rally.
Youths chanting Jubilee slogans lit fires at the entrance to the Laare coffee factory grounds, where the meeting was to be held before the opposing camps started pelting each other with stones.
Police officers had to use tear gas to disperse the increasing number of pro-Jubilee youths who kept surging towards the venue.
However, at 2pm, it became clear the rally had been cancelled after organisers started removing tents, chairs and the red carpet from the grounds.
Meru County ODM chairman Robert Kathata said the meeting had been cancelled since Mr Odinga and other Nasa co-principals could not fly due to bad weather.
“We will announce another date for our rally. However, we maintain that there will be no election on October 26,” Mr Kathata said.
Mr Odinga and the other co-principals were expected to address the rally in the afternoon.
Trouble started at dawn on Tuesday after unknown individuals lit fires and burnt a wooden dais at the venue.
As Nasa supporters made preparations at the venue, pro-Jubilee youths started arriving in vehicles.
They brandished Jubilee placards and vowed to block the rally.
The two camps threw stones at each other before six police officers arrived to restore calm.
Addressing the Nasa supporters under the watch of anti-riot police, lawyer Kirimi Mbogo said the opposition would not be deterred by intimidation from Jubilee.
“We ask the Jubilee supporters to respect the opposition in Meru.
“We are peace lovers and urge the police to ensure we enjoy our constitutional rights. We are ready to rescue this country from bad leadership,” Mr Mbogo said.
As part of its plans, Nasa will Wednesday hold a public rally at the historic Kamukunji Grounds, Nairobi, to explain how it will proceed with its anti-election demonstrations in central business districts after the High Court ordered the lifting of a ban imposed by acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i.
The court also restrained the police from arresting Nasa CEO Norman Magaya.
On Thursday, the coalition will be in Bungoma County.
On Friday, it will be remembering individuals killed in the recent demonstrations in western Siaya, Kisumu and Bondo counties.
On Saturday and Sunday, Nasa will have various events that will be addressed by its leaders separately before heading to Nyamira and Kisii counties on Monday.