President William Ruto has presented opposition leader Raila Odinga with two challenging options for resolving the post-election crisis: either accede to a Parliament-led initiative or wait for the 2027 polls. This marks a significant intensification of the hardline stances taken by both leaders, potentially jeopardizing the ceasefire they declared on Sunday. President Ruto insists that negotiations will solely involve lawmakers, dismissing Odinga’s proposal for a process akin to the National Accord of 2008.
Odinga advocates for mediation that encompasses both Members of Parliament and individuals external to the legislative body. However, President Ruto remains resolute that the bipartisan process addressing grievances, including the appointment of electoral commissioners, must adhere to legal frameworks. Speaking in Kwale County, President Ruto stated, “We cannot hold talks outside the law, that is why I am saying we should allow our MPs to hold bipartisan talks in Parliament.”
Asserting that he will not be held hostage to external demands, Ruto added, “If talks will not be held in Parliament, then they [Opposition] should wait for 2027 for them to [win power].” The President reiterated this message at public gatherings in Nyandarua and Nakuru, where he inaugurated various projects.
“I am all for demonstrations, but only if they will address issues around development, not creating positions for a few politicians,” Ruto proclaimed.
Echoing the President’s sentiments, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, who accompanied Ruto, stated, “The Opposition should allow us to do our job. If they want to resume the protests, let them do so as long as they do not destroy property.”
This development occurs as Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party appointed seven representatives to engage in negotiations with the government. Odinga has also signaled a renewed push for constitutional review to confront the “winner-takes-all system” that has been blamed for post-election conflicts.
Dismissing President Ruto’s frequent assertion that the opposition leader is seeking government entry through a “Handshake,” Odinga insisted that his truce with former President Uhuru Kenyatta in March 2018 was to secure peace, not obtain a government position. During his address at the Azimio Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting in Machakos County, Odinga enumerated eight terms of reference that his side will present during the talks, which he believes should conclude within 30 days of establishing the Joint Task Force.
The opposition leader also expressed concerns about the ruling United Democratic Alliance’s exclusion of other communities in state appointments, stating, “This monopoly of power … can only be rectified with a thoughtful deliberative process involving all Kenyans. We need a proper constitutional review to cure the governance defects in the 2010 Constitution and remove the last vestiges of an imperial presidency. In our dialogue with KK [Kenya Kwanza], we will be putting this matter on the table.”
Odinga’s negotiating team, endorsed by the PG, includes ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna, Senate Minority Whip Ledama Ole Kina, Deputy Minority Leader Enoch Wambua, MPs Otiende Amollo, David Pkosing, Millie Odhiambo, and Amina Mnyanzi.