President William Ruto’s invite to opposition leader Raila Odinga for talks on Wednesday triggered a political storm with key politicians weighing in on the move.
President Ruto on Tuesday tweeted that he is ready to have talks with the Azimio leader at his convenience.
“My friend @RailaOdinga, I’m off to Tanzania for a human capital meeting to harmonise the expansion of employment opportunities in our continent. I’m back tomorrow evening, and as you have always known, I’m available to meet one on one with you anytime at your convenience. WsR,” Ruto said in a tweet.
Vocal lawyer Miguna Miguna, Ruto’s ally, termed the head of state’s move a political masterstroke and a win for the President.
“If Raila attends the meeting, he must explain himself. He also must answer the question: how will the meeting reduce the cost of living?” Miguna tweeted.
However, Former Mukurweini MP Kabando wa Kabando lauded Ruto for publicly inviting Raila for talks.
Speaking on Wednesday, Kabando said any secret talks between the two leaders would be similar to the handshake between Raila and Retired President Uhuru Kenyatta.
He noted that the people are the owners of the dialogue that has been widely called for.
“Raila should this time remember that Kenyans are the de jure stakeholders of dialogue. Any secret talks will be akin infamous handshake. BBI was rejected because it was a fraud. It’s perfectly in order for Ruto to invite Raila via Twitter,” Kabando said.
National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi expressed his disappointment with Ruto’s invitation to Raila through a tweet.
Wandayi claimed that Ruto’s invitation through social media shows that the President does not respect Raila.
“Ruto must respect Baba, inviting him via a tweet is disrespectful,” said Wandayi.
Speaking on Ramogi radio Wednesday morning, Wandayi insisted that the President must get serious about his message by following formal channels.
Saboti MP Caleb Amisi, a Raila ally, said Raila has his blessings to engage with Ruto.
In a statement on Wednesday, Amisi said that though he remains suspicious of the invitation for talks, Raila should proceed.
He, however, advised the Opposition leader to be smart during the engagement and use his utmost wisdom, because of the kind of people he will be dealing with.
Amisi insisted that the talks should be simple and straight to the point, with clear timelines and deliverables.
“Touch on the cost of living, Finance Bill, IEBC, and few constitutional amendments. Those killed and injured (during protests); families must be compensated,” the Saboti MP said.
He also urged Raila to avoid any form of handshake at all costs.
Amisi asked Raila not to go to the negotiating table with his Azimio team, saying that they are conflicted and have “immature ambitions”.
Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo, another Raila ally, claimed that President Ruto and his Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua are not on the same page on calls for talks.
Speaking on Wednesday at Spice FM, the legislator claimed there are hardliners in both Kenya Kwanza and Azimio who make it difficult for talks to take place.
He claimed that the DP is fearful of any form of dialogue that may separate them in future.
“There is a difference of thought between Ruto and Gachagua on the idea of any dialogue and on the ambit of that dialogue. I get the sense that the President’s side is fearful of any talks that take us to 2022, which demands the opening of servers for fear and consequences of the unknown but wants to have a conversation about 2027 for legitimate purposes,” he said.
“I get the sense that there are those who like the DP think that any sought of dialogue might put them in jeopardy. They fear any discussion because they are saying we can talk but there is no handshake.”
Former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo also welcomed Ruto’s goodwill gesture to Raila saying dialogue would be the best way out to find solutions to any differences.
“The reality today is that we are all interdependent and have to co-exist on this small planet. Therefore, the only sensible and intelligent way of resolving differences and clashes of interests, whether between individuals or nations, is through dialogue,” Kabogo said on his Twitter.