President Ruto meets Tanzanian counterpart Samia after snub claims

Wednesday July 26 2023
ruto samia

Kenya’s President William Ruto (L) shakes hands with Tanzania's President Samia Suluhu in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on July 26, 2023. PHOTO | PCS


Kenyan President William Ruto on Wednesday met with Tanzanian counterpart Samia Suluhu Hassan, a day after opposition leader Raila Odinga claimed he had snubbed her mediation offers to address the Kenyan political crisis two weeks ago.

The two presidents met on the sidelines of a conference on human capital in the Tanzanian commercial capital Dar es salaam.

The two, Odinga and Ruto have been on the opposite sides of a political bickering surrounding the cost of living, taxation policy as well as post-election disagreements following last year’s tightly contested presidential polls won by Dr Ruto.

Those disputes led to violent protests for the last three weeks, causing fears the country could plunge into a political crisis.

Read: Kenya protests: Day of chaos, rebellion and shutdown

Ruto announced on Wednesday he was travelling to Dar es Salaam to attend the Human Capital Summit, meant to discuss harmonisation of labour policies in the East African region. But he addressed Odinga, offering to meet him to discuss the crisis once he returned to Nairobi.


My friend Raila Odinga, (I) am off to Tanzania for a human capital meeting to harmonise the expansion of employment opportunities in our continent. (I) Am back tomorrow evening (Wednesday), and as you have always known, am available to meet one on one with you anytime at your convenience,” Ruto tweeted.

Ruto’s Spokesman Hussein Mohamed told the media on Wednesday there had been no protocol arrangement for the two leaders to meet.

"President Suluhu must have been here for holiday and Kenya is open to anyone to visit. Information going around that President Ruto did not meet her is because it was not a state visit, since there was no protocol followed,” said Mohammed.

They met in Dar at the Africa Heads of State for Human Capital Summit which kicked off on Tuesday targeting to review the continent’s higher demand on human capital development and future.

But it seems it could offer an opportunity for Kenya’s political protagonists to address their continual beef.

Odinga had told an international press briefing earlier in the day that President Samia had travelled to Kenya earlier this month to help forestall a street protest that was threatening to balloon into a serious political crisis.

“Samia Suluhu came here two weeks ago at the invitation of President Ruto to mediate, but she was kept waiting not from our side, we were available, but the other side was not available,” he said.

“She spent two nights here and it was all in vain. Other people have tried but he’s the one who’s resisting. I am ready to sit with other people to discuss these issues,” Odinga stated during the interview with the International Press Association of East Africa.

Read: Ruto bullish stance makes political settlement hard

“I have said I am ready to sit with the people and discuss these issues. Ruto is actually pretending, and he is living in the delusion that we don’t have a crisis,” he said.

His coalition, Azimio, called off street protests on Monday, accusing the Kenyan police of brutality against unarmed protesters. Instead, the coalition said it will hold a candle vigil for the protests killed or maimed in the chaos, on Wednesday. The Interior Ministry, which oversees policing operations in the country, rejected the allegations.

Yet the climb down by Odinga’s side has coincided with Ruto’s lowering of his voice.

At a rally in Kericho last week, President Ruto expressed his willingness to engage in talks with the opposition on matters affecting Kenyans as long as they did not involve a handshake conversation.

“They should have engaged us in talks through Parliamentary leadership on the issue they raised, but they chose to use demonstrations. They should use constitutional and legal avenues to address their grievances, if any,” President Ruto said.

However, an earlier agreement to hold talks via parliament fell through back in May as Azimio accused the ruling Kenya Kwanza of short-changing them. On Tuesday, Odinga said Kenya Kwanza was abusing its “artificial majority” in parliament, which he said was attained by poaching MPs allied to the opposition.

Read: Kenya’s political showdown likely to shift Eastern

The two-day Summit began with a discussion on the youths’ participation in Africa’s development agenda on achieving the African Union (AU) agenda 2063 Goal.

The African Heads of State are set to discuss economic strategies that would create 100 million new jobs for young people in the continent by 2025 by using Africa’s driven human resources, banking on the potential offered by the African people, mostly women and youth.

The organisers, the World Bank and the Tanzanian Ministry of Finance said that Africa’s development is people driven, relying on human workforce on transforming the continent’s economies. 

Key areas for Africa’s economic development for discussion are health, modern agriculture for increased productivity and development of blue economy through utilization of Africa’s Ocean resources for accelerated economic growth.

Tanzanian Vice President Dr Phillip Mpango opened the summit at a ceremony also attended by Burundian Prime Minister Mr Gervais Ndirakobuca and the Vice Prime Minister of Cape Verde Dr Olavo Avelino Garcia Correia who arrived in Dar es Salaam for the Summit.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Dr Natu Mwamba said that the summit is expected to generate the Dar es Salaam Human Capital Declaration 2023 that would push investment on human capital coupled with an enabling environment including policies and strategies to enhance human resources in Africa.

 President Samia Suluhu Hassan will address about 30 African Heads of State on Wednesday, July 26, the Summit organisers said in a statement, indicating some 30 heads of state and government were expected.