LIVE BLOG: Raila Odinga Leads Saba Saba Kamukunji Rally Against Ruto

The rally is expected to culminate in nationwide protests to put pressure on Ruto's administration

LIVE BLOG: Raila Odinga Leads Saba Saba Kamukunji Rally Against Ruto
Raila Odinga supporters in standoff against police during the Saba Saba protests on July 7, 2023. /TWITTER

The Azimio la Umoja coalition is set to hold its rally at the Kamukunji Grounds to mark Saba Saba Day. The purpose of the Friday, July 7 rally is to force President William Ruto's government to scrap off some sections of the Finance Act, 2023.

The rally is expected to culminate in nationwide protests to put pressure on Ruto's administration, with Azimio leader, Raila Odinga, expected to address the rally to address the rising cost of living, among other demands.

On Tuesday, June 27, Azimio Principal Eugene Wamalwa revealed that a signature collection exercise will signal the withdrawal of its sovereignty from officials of the Kenya Kwanza regime including Ruto and all elected leaders who supported the Finance Bill 2023.

According to the opposing coalition, it will collect signatures from at least 1 million Kenyans who support self-determination. Raila noted that, if successful, they will then submit the signatures to local and international bodies, which will then decide whether or not to grant them their wish. 

Keep refreshing this page as Viral Tea provides you with the latest updates, reactions and analysis during the Saba Saba rally

4.00 pm: Raila celebrates accessing the Nairobi CBD for the first time in all of Azimio's protests, having managed to outmanoeuvre anti-riot police officers on his way to the city.

Speaking to the media at the Jaramogi Foundation after a two-hour-long procession from Kamukunji Grounds, Raila emphasized that they would not give up on the demonstrations.

"We have gotten into the CBD, which is a huge achievement. I saw you picking and returning the teargasses after they were lobbed. 

"They should know that there is no turning back at this point. We will continue with the demonstration up until when our demands shall be met," Raila declared. 

The ODM Party Leader also cautioned the police against instigating violence, noting that no businesses were destroyed despite having a procession throughout Nairobi. 

3.35 pm: Raila Odinga's convoy has gained entry into the Nairobi Central Business District (CBD) after police failed to stop its movement, despite Regional Police Commander Adamson Bungei's warning against Azimio marching to the CBD.

Raila urged his supporters to reach Central Park in the CBD by any means necessary.

Protesters are meanwhile engaging police in running battles along University Way, Uhuru Highway, Kenyatta Avenue and Moi Avenue as anti-riot police spray the demonstrators using water canons as tear gas fumes fill the area.

2.23 pm: Police were forced to scamper for safety as the Azimio Saba Saba procession successfully forced its way through the first police barricade set up to block their exit from Kamukunji grounds. Raila's motorcade was heavily teargassed with multiple rounds of live bullets fired in the air.

2.18 pm: Police teargas Raila Odinga's convoy as it heads to Nairobi CBD, flanked by hundreds of his supporters. The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party Leader is leading his supporters to Central Park but police officers are curtailing his movement.

Raila Odinga's convoy teargassed by police while leaving Kamukunji grounds on July 7, 2023. /RAILA ODINGA

2.15 pm: Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka leads protests in Kathiani Market, Machakos organised by Azimio la Umoja to lower the cost of living.

Musyoka addressed the rally, calling on President William Ruto to withdraw sections of the Finance Act 2023 which introduced new taxes. The protests were peaceful, and no arrests were made.

2.11 pm: Martha Karua, the leader of the Narc Kenya party, led a Saba Saba meeting at Difathas in Kirinyaga, a meeting which was attended by a relatively large group of people, including supporters and other opposition leaders. 

Karua used the meeting to tear into Ruto's administration, with the former justice minister and a leading figure in Kenyan politics explaining that Kenya Kwanza's led Finance Act 2023, had introduced a new tax burden on the people. 

1.34 pm: Raila defies Nairobi Regional Commander Adamson Bungei's directive to Azimio la Umoja not to take the protests to the Central Business District (CBD). 

"We are heading to Central Park in Nairobi's CBD where we are going to converge for other meetings," Raila announced.

However, he asked his supporters to remain peaceful and avoid attacking law enforcement officers or breaking into businesses.

"We gather here peacefully in order to have a conversation. We will not engage in criminal activities that lead to the destruction of property," Raila stated. 

Bungei earlier affirmed that Azimio is only allowed to hold their rally at Kamukunji Grounds in line with the Public Order Act. The Act bars protesters from demonstrating in the city centre without a permit, thus he vowed to use necessary measures to ensure that businesses in the CBD are protected.

"We want to inform members of the public that they have applied for a baraza meeting and not a demonstration as people are talking.

"We have only legalised the Kamukunji meeting and we will not allow any other meeting anywhere else. It will be a working day and at the baraza in Kamukunji we will provide security and there is no cause for alarm," Bungei cautioned. 

Raila Odinga with former Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria heading to Kamukunji Grounds for the Saba Saba rally on July 7, 2023. /THE STAR

1.30 pm: Raila addresses his supporters from Kamukunji Grounds in Nairobi, claiming that President William Ruto had ignored the pleas from Kenyans, claiming that Kenya Kwanza was not serious about the bipartisan talks. Consequently, he asked his team to suspend the meeting indefinitely.

"Time for talks is over. We will now rely on the Constitution to decide our future," Raila tells Azimio la Umoja supporters in Nairobi.

He threatened to lead his supporters in seeking self-determination based on the provisions of the Constitution. 

"We are currently collecting signatures which will determine our social strength and final resolve for self-determinations," Raila stated, adding that he plans to collect up to 10 million signatures by Friday next week to oust Ruto's regime

1.09 pm: A small group of protesters was rounded up on Banda Street in Nairobi's CBD at around 12.20 pm. Journalists had to ask the police to stop strangling one of the women bundled into the car.

12.54 pm: Azimio leaders arrive at Kamukunji grounds for the rally, including Azimio leader, Raila Odinga.

12.49 pm: Former Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi was reportedly arrested by police officers who barred him from leading anti-government demonstrations in Laikipia town.

The former Governor was reportedly detained at Nyahururu Police Station where the officers were to process him in readiness for a possible charge.

Jubilee Party on Thursday, July 6, informed the Officer Commanding Nyahururu Police Station of their intention to hold a procession in the town against President William Ruto's government.

"This is to notify you that the Jubilee Party, Laikipia Branch will be holding a peaceful procession in Nyahururu Town on Friday, the 7th of July 2023.

"For the avoidance of doubt, this is not an application for permission as none is required under Article 37. This is a notification to enable the police to provide adequate security to the demonstrators. Your cooperation will be highly appreciated," read part of a letter that was written by Thomas King'ori, Chairman of Jubilee Party, Laikipia Branch. 

12.30 pm: Azimio MPs George Aladwa (Makadara), Babu Owino (Embakasi East), Peter Orero (Kibra) and Tim Wanyonyi (Westlands) arrive at Kamukunji grounds ahead of Raila’s speech. 

12.20 pm: Police teargas demonstrators chanting against the high cost of living on Kimathi Street near Nation Centre.

12.10 pm: Nandi Senator Kiprotich Arap Cherargei claims that the Saba Saba protests will cost the government Ksh100 billion, calls for the arrest of Raila Odinga.

"If Raila is arrested today what's the worst that can happen? Will Kenya stop? Will the world come to an end? Will the cost of living come down? Will Kenyans be happy? Maandamano continues to disrupt Peace and its economic sabotage. The Country is likely to lose today Ksh100 billion because of sterile demonstrations," he tweeted.

11.30 am: Mombasa MPs condemn police officers for interfering with peaceful Saba Saba protests in the county.

“Aluta Continua! No retreat, no surrender,” Likoni MP Mishi Mboko vowed to push on with the protests after police dispersed protesters with teargas.

11.09 am: Police fire teargas to disperse protesters in Moi Avenue Road, Mombasa

11:00 am: Security heightened in Kisumu city's CBD as most businesses remain closed ahead of planned anti-government demonstrations. 

10.30 am: Police in civilian clothing were seen arresting several people in the Nairobi CBD on suspicion that they could be hatching a plot to kick off Saba Saba protests called by the Azimio coalition.

Those arrested were whisked into standby police vehicles and taken to various police stations in the City. Among those arrested included those found along Harambee Avenue which hosts the office of the President and that of Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

Suspected Protesters arrested in the streets of Nairobi on July 7, 2023. /TWITTER

"Cops decided to show their unique approach to addressing our plea for affordable living costs—by disrupting a peaceful protest with the ultimate combo of arrests & tear gas. Our determination is unshakeable and rivals even the most stubborn police tactics," Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) criticised the police officers.

Meanwhile, heavy police security was seen around Nairobi CBD with both plainclothes and uniformed police officers deployed in the streets. 

10.30 am: Security tightened in Kisumu as Azimio la Umoja supporters begin anti-government demonstrations protesting the rising cost of living.


9.30 am: Protests erupted in certain areas of Nairobi, resulting in traffic disruptions. Protesters along Thika Road were said to have set tires ablaze and targeted vehicles with stones, leaving motorists stranded. 

Unverified reports had revealed that police in Nairobi dispersed a group of youth who had blocked traffic and attacked motorists on the Thika Super Highway.