Hope as Kenya's government, opposition begin talks after protests

Wednesday August 09 2023
rao wsr

Combination of file pictures showsing Raila Odinga (L), the leader of the Kenyan opposition coalition “Azimio la Umoja”, and Kenya's President William Ruto. PHOTO | AFP


Talks between President William Ruto and Opposition leader Raila Odinga seeking to resolve the stalemate arising from the high cost of living and disputed presidential election results begin on Wednesday, exactly one year after the August 9, 2022 polls.

President Ruto on Monday appeared to soften Kenya Kwanza’s hardline stance ahead of the talks, stating that he was ready to dialogue with the Opposition on all of its issues so long as it did not include sharing of positions in the government.

The President’s allies had pegged their conditions for dialogue on the discussion of five issues: reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), implementation of the two-third gender rule, entrenchment of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), establishment and the entrenchment of office of the leader of opposition and embedment of the office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary.

On the other hand, Odinga’s Azimio  la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party had insisted discussing the high cost of living, audit of the 2022 presidential election results, restructuring and reconstitution of the IEBC, measures to prevent interference with political parties and outstanding constitutional matters on governance issues, adequate checks and balances and the question of boundaries delimitation.

Read: Another round of talks starts to resolve Kenya's political dispute

“If we agree on those two; that there is no handshake and there will be no more violence, then we can proceed as a country and discuss the rest of the things,” the president said during his meet-the-people tour in Nyeri, Central Kenya.


Clean hands

On Tuesday, Odinga also weighed in on the matter, saying, “We are not interested in a handshake with people whose hands are stained with the blood of innocent Kenyans.”

Odinga further disclosed that the coalition would approach the talks with clean hands, cautioning against the perpetuation of vitriol and propaganda that would jeopardise the negotiations.

Odinga announced the formation of a technical and legal team led by Jubilee Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni to support its delegation in the talks that is led by Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka.

“We remain committed to negotiating in good faith to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the country’s problems through dialogue.”

“We stand for transparent, above-board and speedy talks guided by decorum, honesty and respect for the people of Kenya,” Odinga told journalists in Karen, Nairobi.

Read: Western envoys urge dialogue amid Kenya protests

He was flanked by Musyoka, Kioni, Democratic Action Party of Kenya leader Eugene Wamalwa, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Deputy Party Leader Wycliffe Oparanya, ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna and former Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria.

The Azimio delegation has Mr Musyoka as its team leader with Mr Wamalwa, National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi, Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni and Malindi MP Amina Mnyazi as members.

The Kenya Kwanza team has National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah leading as the team that comprises Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot, Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire, Bungoma Woman Rep Catherine Wambilianga and East Africa Legislative Assembly member Hassan Omar.

Odinga said Wandayi will serve as deputy chairman and spokesperson of its dialogue. He said the first team in the aborted talks that was led by Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo will remain as a backup.