University Student Leaders Extend Invitation to Raila for Friday Demos

A riot police officer stands near supporters of Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga of the Azimio La Umoja (Declaration of Unity) One Kenya Alliance, during an anti-government protest against the imposition of tax hikes by the government, in Mathare settlement in Nairobi, Kenya, July 12, 2023. REUTERS/John Muchucha/File Photo
A riot police officer stands near supporters of Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga of the Azimio La Umoja (Declaration of Unity) One Kenya Alliance, during an anti-government protest against the imposition of tax hikes by the government, in Mathare settlement in Nairobi, Kenya, July 12, 2023. REUTERS/John Muchucha/File Photo

On Thursday, a coalition of student leaders made a unanimous declaration, revealing their intention to organize nationwide demonstrations in universities to protest the exorbitant cost of living.

During a meeting with Azimio leaders, which included Raila Odinga, the leader of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party, the student leaders confirmed that they would indeed carry out the scheduled protests on Friday.

They also observed that the opposition had retreated from the forefront of leading the protests and consequently encouraged politicians to join their cause.

‘‘We are inviting you to come and demonstrate with us on Friday,’’ a student leader representative requested at the round table held in Nairobi.

The student leaders also revealed their plans to organize demonstrations against the current university funding system, which they openly voiced their disapproval of.

In May 2023, President William Ruto introduced a new model, which was subsequently launched by Education CS Ezekiel Machogu two months later.

This government initiative introduced the Higher Education Financing (HEF) Portal, designed to disburse funds directly to students.

University students called for a reevaluation of the system and stressed the importance of the government maintaining the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB).

Additional concerns that were raised included delayed funding allocation and security issues in schools.

Embakasi East MP, Babu Owino, was among the opposition figures who endorsed the idea of organizing protests on Friday.

According to Babu Owino, a considerable number of students still hadn’t enrolled in universities due to difficulties arising from the new funding model, which he described as unfavorable and biased.

‘Student leaders do not carry the government’s cross,” the Embakasi East MP warned.

”Let the demonstrations be done just outside the gate of all the universities simultaneously, then you repeat the same within a month. You will get the results you need,” he added.

Raila Odinga, the ex-Prime Minister, additionally remarked about the rising expenses, alleging that the government ignored his counsel.

”We told these people several times, you are in the hole. Don’t continue to dig. You saw how the members of parliament fought very hard against the tax bill because hiked taxes do not offer any solution,” Raila noted.

‘The issues that are within our powers we will do,” he added but deviated from responding to the planned demonstrations.

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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