As the bipartisan talks between representatives of President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga move into a critical phase, the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition has chosen to delay demonstrations until its principal returns from the United Arab Emirates. However, the opposition maintains that the option for protests remains on the table, accusing Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza alliance of insincerity in the discussions.
Odinga has recently criticized Catholic Church leaders for downplaying his demand for access to the August 2022 election servers, asserting that this request is central to his agitation and should be supported by all. As negotiations resume on Tuesday, Ruto hopes to stall demonstrations and keep discussions within the parliamentary process, while Odinga advocates for an extra-parliamentary approach.
Despite some misreporting, both sides have not yet referred the contentious matters to Ruto and Odinga, but have resolved to engage with them. Odinga has confirmed that the opposition will continue holding demonstrations and will announce the dates after the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He also maintains that the anti-government protests are peaceful, dismissing criticisms of violence and unconstitutionality.
While the opposition has a list of demands – including lowering the cost of food, fuel, and school fees, opening and auditing the election servers, restructuring the electoral commission, and ending the poaching of MPs by the ruling coalition – the government argues that talks should only focus on hiring electoral commission bosses. Experts say that holding talks outside of Parliament could favor Odinga, as it would open up a national conversation and allow for more ideas to be considered. However, lowering the cost of living could potentially increase Ruto’s popularity, working against the opposition’s goals.
As the negotiations continue, the future of these bipartisan talks and their potential impact on the country remains uncertain.