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US, Israel push Uhuru to form Government of National Unity

By Rawlings Otieno and Moses Nyamori | Published Tue, January 9th 2018 at 00:00, Updated January 8th 2018 at 22:32 GMT +3

The push by the United States and Israeli governments for President Uhuru Kenyatta to form a government of national unity has met resistance.

This was supposed to calm the political noise and ensure unity among Kenyans but it has not been well received by both sides of the political divide.

The two foreign governments as well as the European Union have been pressuring opposition chief Raila Odinga and his running mate in the presidential election, Kalonzo Musyoka, to drop their bid to be sworn in as the people’s president and deputy respectively.

On Monday, US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec met Leader of Minority in the National Assembly John Mbadi and his Senate counterpart, Moses Wetang’ula, to try to persuade them not to support the idea of swearing in Raila and Kalonzo.

Godec called for national dialogue that would culminate in inclusivity and strengthening of independent institutions.

Remains committed

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“As we have indicated, the US is of the view that there is need for a national conversation on how to strengthen institutions, address the question of inclusivity, the question on governance and how to deal with corruption. US remains strongly committed to national dialogue in Kenya,” the ambassador said.

Godec told Mbadi and Wetang’ula that it was impossible to have another election in 90 days, as demanded by the Opposition.

The envoy was also against the swearing-in of Raila as the people’s president. The Opposition has announced that Raila will be sworn in on January 30, a move Godec said could push the country to the brink of political anarchy.

“We are unaware of the push by the US and Israel for a government of national unity. The push by US and EU for Raila to stop the swearing-in plan is in the public domain and isn’t in good faith. None of the affiliates of NASA wants to be part of Jubilee, a monster we have denounced. We are for substantive changes to achieve fundamental electoral justice for the posterity of Kenyans,” Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi’s spokesman, Kibisu Kabatesi, said.

But Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju and Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja denied knowledge of the US-Israeli governments’ push to form a coalition government in the interest of the country.

National dialogue

In separate interviews, the Jubilee leaders instead hit back at the Opposition, accusing it of trying to use threats of Raila’s swearing-in to coerce them into accepting national dialogue.

“This idea of swearing in Raila is being used to scare Jubilee and must come to an end. If Raila wants to swear himself in, he can go ahead. There is only one way to become president in Kenya and Uhuru is the legitimately elected president,” said Sakaja.

Tuju dismissed calls for dialogue as ‘a waste of time’ when the country was supposed to be discussing development.

“Did Donald Trump have dialogue with Hillary Clinton on the way forward for the United States after their elections? And is Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o having dialogue with Jack Ranguma on how to run Kisumu? That is my answer to the calls,” said Tuju.

Sources in the National Super Alliance (NASA) told The Standard that although the US and Israel have been pushing for the formation of a government of national unity, there have been no talks between President Uhuru and Raila.

“It is in the public domain that the US and the Israeli governments want Kenya to have a government of national unity. But as far as we are concerned, such talks with the opposition leader have not taken place,” said a source who requested anonymity.

The source added that there have been proposals from NASA to have the system of governance changed from presidential, where the winner takes it all, to a parliamentary or hybrid one.

The source from Raila’s office further alleged that Jubilee has been sending emissaries to to try to persuade him to drop his swearing-in bid and allow Kenya to move forward, but that the opposition leader has remained non-committal.

It is understood that this fresh push could have led Uhuru to suspend naming his full Cabinet as he explores other options.

But both Wetang’ula and Mbadi said NASA was not keen on joining President Uhuru’s administration.

“We discussed inclusivity in terms of what we have been talking about - two communities holding all government positions. Forming a coalition government is not an option to us to the extent that we have never talked about it. It has never been an item on our agenda,” said Wetang’ula.

Registered voters

Mbadi said that agreeing to work with Uhuru would be akin to legitimising ‘an illegal administration’ that he claimed did not draw its mandate from the majority of registered voters.

“We are not interested in joining Uhuru and Ruto in forming a government. We cannot be part of an illegitimately elected administration,” said Mbadi.

ANC leader Mudavadi, however, said NASA did not want to be part of the Jubilee they have denounced.

But the Opposition has insisted that should there be no dialogue, it would proceed to swear in Raila on January 30 as the people’s president.

“We have indicated more than once that we are ready to engage our colleagues on electoral reforms, matters of protecting constitutional institutions, such as the Judiciary, the Auditor General’s offices, and strengthening Parliament so that it is not used to rubber-stamp the Executive’s decisions,” said Wetang’ula.