Relief as Kenya’s warring parties embrace dialogue


Raila Odinga advised not to distabilise Kenyan peace and stability. Photo by Reuters

from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
Kenya Bureau
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – BY agreeing to dialogue, Kenya’s political rivalries have made a giant step towards addressing crises threatening to plunge the East African country to the bloodshed experienced 15 years ago.

The opposition Azimio La Umoja- One Kenya coalition has agreed to talks with the ruling Kenya Kwanza-One Kenya alliance of President William Ruto.

Former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo is to be the mediator of the talks that could resume as early as August 1 after breakthroughs were reached in recent days between Ruto and rival, the former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga.

Obasanjo was reportedly in the country this past weekend and met both leaders.

The dialogue is to seek a peaceful resolution of the social, economic, and political problems the country is currently witnessing and that threaten the lives of millions of citizens.

Crises in Kenya, which worsened after a disputed election last October, had threatened to be yet another headache for the African continent already dealing with a number of conflicts, from the civil war in Sudan to coups in some West African countries.

South African opposition leader, Julius Malema, a proponent of a United Africa, denounced the developments in Kenya and singled out Odinga.

“We want to make a call in Kenya, especially to comrade (Cde) Raila Odinga. Stop doing what you are doing (organising unnecessary disruptive protests against the Kenyan government). Do not disrupt Kenya. We need peace in Kenya,” Malema said this past weekend.

He spoke in Soweto as his Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party celebrated its tenth-year anniversary.

Odinga’s Azimio La Umoja has in recent weeks encouraged Kenyans to hold weekly demonstrations against the government, despite the police outlawing such.

This has resulted in several deaths as protesters engage in street battles with police.

On Monday, progress was made when the opposition alliance confirmed a five-member team to represent it in the dialogue.

Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, the former Vice President, leads the delegation.

“Azimio is keen on a time-bound programme of talks that should take one month beginning August 1, 2023,” Azimio La Umoja stated.

If its position is anything to go by, the dialogue is set to be heated.

“Our position remains that no party to these negotiations can claim a right to determine for the other what to raise and what not to raise. Azimio will respect Kenya Kwanza’s right to bring all its issues to the table. We expect Kenya Kwanza to do the same with our issues,” it stated.

The party wants the high cost of living, audit of the 2022 General Election results, inclusivity in national affairs and reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Committee.

An estimated 1 500 people were killed during disputed 2007/08 polls in Kenya.

Odinga lost the polls. He has lost five times now.

– CAJ News

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