US pushing for Uhuru, Raila talks

Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu and Nasa leader Raila Odinga during Nyenze's burial on December 19, 2017. [Paul Mutua, Standard]

The United States is still pushing for dialogue between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

This is despite threats by the Raila-led National Super Alliance (NASA) to have him sworn in before the end of this year.

The US said it would continue championing talks between the Government and the Opposition to make Kenya a “model of dialogue”, even as it urged the former premier to shelve plans of getting sworn in.

While praising Raila for his commitment towards political reforms in the country, acting Assistant Secretary for African Donald Yamamoto said Raila’s plan to form a parallel government was unhelpful.

“Raila stands as a model for reform. He is respected because of his push for reforms,” he said during a teleconference at the US embassy in Nairobi.

The envoy rekindled hope on the fading possibility of dialogue between Raila and Uhuru.

Recently, Uhuru claimed he was not ready for talks with Raila and asked him to prepare to face off with Deputy President William Ruto in the 2022 elections.

Concluded elections

Uhuru said on Sunday he would not spend time politicking when polls had been concluded, adding it was time to deliver election promises.

 Yamamoto's statement yesterday that US’s push for dialogue was still on course seemed to conflict with Uhuru's stand.

“We will continue working with Raila and Uhuru. We need to push forward and get dialogue in a constructive manner,” he said.

Yamamoto said US ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec has been at the forefront seeking to lead the two leaders into talks and noted it was still possible for an agreement to be reached.

The Washington-based official praised Kenya as a country that had demonstrated high standards of democracy and one that enjoyed constructive ties with the US.

"Kenya stands as a model for what could happen and what must be done," Yamamoto added.

But the latest developments of NASA's plans to swear in Raila as “the people’s president” are threatening the relative political calm that had returned after two presidential elections.

Attorney General Githu Muigai has warned that Raila’s swearing in will amount to high treason.

However, Siaya Senator James Orengo dismissed Attorney General Githu Muigai's warning on ‘high treason’ if Raila takes oath of office, saying Kenyan laws were not clear on the matter.