Ruto’s plea comes after Raila Odinga, the leader of the opposition, renewed calls for street protests, which he says will begin after the holy month of Ramadan ends.
The president however said: “I plead with my Brother [Raila], to stop the protests” adding that it will further destabilise Kenya’s economy.
“Lets seek what we want as leaders without chaos or destruction of property,” Ruto said, accusing his political rival of planning to use protests to force his way into government, a claim that Raila has dismissed.
‘Embrace the opposition’
The president needs to engage in talks with the opposition so the country can return to a more politically stable state that will help him govern in peace, Kevin Ochol, a Nairobi-based political analyst, tells The Africa Report.
“Ruto has learned too late that he needs to embrace the opposition. He has no choice,” Ochol says.
Let them come to the table with clean hands and engage in a transparent process that engages all the issues we have raised
On Sunday 16 April, Raila resumed his political rallies in Nairobi, telling supporters to prepare for new protests that he says will coincide with planned talks with Ruto’s government.
“We are waiting for the end of Ramadan. We shall go back to the streets,” he said.
The Azimio la Umoja Coalition leader has accused the ruling Kenya Kwanza of showing signs of dishonesty and lack of commitment ahead of the talks.
“Let them come to the table with clean hands and engage in a transparent process that engages all the issues we have raised,” he said.
Though the two parties say they want to engage each other in discussions, they disagree on the methodology and agenda of proposed talks.
Preparations for talks
Each side has already named their team of seven representatives that will form a special committee.
However, the opposition is still pushing for the talks to be held outside Parliament and wants more parties to be involved.
Issues they want addressed include:
- Ways of reducing the high cost of living;
- A forensic audit of the 2022 disputed presidential results;
- Opening of the servers that stored the presidential results;
- Reforming the electoral commission.
However, the government is standing its ground, asking that the talks solely focus on the selection of new electoral officials and how to reform the commission.
“[The] opposition knows their demands can’t be met in Parliament, they will use all means to bring the talks outside,” says Ochol.
On 2 April, Raila suspended weekly protests after Ruto appealed for talks following two weeks of street demonstrations.
Stage set for talks
Kimani Ichung’wah, the leader of the majority side in Parliament, says he has already filed the notice of motion asking the Speakers of the National Assembly and the Senate to formally set up the committee that will spearhead the deliberations.
“We, the government, are ready for bipartisan engagement,” he says.
He adds that the selected committee will have 90 days from the start of the talks to prepare a report and draft a bill that can be passed by both houses.
However, the opposition wants the name of its parliamentarian, Adan Keynan, currently listed in the government side, to be removed, because he openly supports Ruto.
The opposition says naming Keynan from the Jubilee Party, which is an affiliate of the Azimio la Umoja Coalition, is disrespectful and a sign of lack of seriousness towards the talks.