Stakeholders in Kenya urge for talks as Uhuru Kenyatta's second term begins

Saturday November 25 2017

Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga at a past

Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga at a past event. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

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Religious leaders and diplomats are rooting for a peaceful resolution to Kenya’s political impasse even as President Uhuru Kenyatta is sworn in for his second term.

The EastAfrican has learnt that both the ruling Jubilee Party and the opposition’s National Super Alliance — which has refused to acknowledge President Uhuru’s win and vowed to press on with demands for electoral justice — have been presented with a proposal on how the current tension could be defused and further violent protests averted through national dialogue.

Nasa’s presidential candidate Raila Odinga and running mate Kalonzo Musyoka boycotted the repeat polls of October 26 after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) failed to fully meet the opposition alliance’s demands for electoral changes. Last week, the Supreme Court upheld President Uhuru’s victory, paving the way for the swearing in ceremony on November 28.

The prolonged electioneering period has been marked by heightened political tension and violent protests, in which at least 50 people have been killed.

US ambassador to Kenya, Robert Godec, is said to be spearheading the dialogue, and has reportedly presented a proposal to both Jubilee and Nasa for consideration before negotiations can begin.

“Mr Godec has talked to us about a new government structure, but we have not given it thought. However, there is a follow-up meeting to agree on a way forward,” a source close to Mr Odinga told The EastAfrican.

According to the Nasa official, the proposal seeks to discuss amendments to the Constitution to create the position of Leader of the Opposition, who would be charged with national reconciliation.

The US embassy said it was indeed engaging “publicly and privately,” with political leaders to find an amicable solution that would end the deep divisions in the country, but added that this must be done in line with the Constitution.

According to the US embassy, there is a need for “an open and transparent dialogue between all parties to resolve concerns and grievances in a manner consistent with the Kenyan Constitution.”

Those privy to the discussions with the US ambassador said that, according to the proposal, once President Kenyatta is sworn in, talks to create a position of Leader of Opposition to oversee national reconstruction and reconciliation will begin.

Start the process

If the two sides agree to adopt the proposal, a joint team will be set up to spearhead the process. Jubilee and Nasa were reportedly asked to consider the proposal and come up with their counter-proposals.

President Kenyatta’s allies are not ruling out working with Mr Odinga once the president is sworn in.

David Murathe, an ally of President Kenyatta said working with Mr Odinga was not “a big deal.” He said the two sides can adopt a joint parliamentary committee model.

“The existing power structure can be amended to accommodate more leaders. If they agree, we will go to parliament to pass relevant laws,” Mr Murathe told The EastAfrican.