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Why the US government has set a multimillion budget for Uhuru, Raila dialogue

By Nzau Musau | Published Sun, January 14th 2018 at 00:00, Updated January 13th 2018 at 21:41 GMT +3
The US government and other donors funded a similar dialogue in 2008 [Courtesy]

The clamour for dialogue between Kenyan political actors has moved a notch higher with the US government setting aside a special kitty for the talks.

In an exclusive interview with Sunday Standard, the US embassy in Nairobi confirmed that the Donald Trump administration is ready to facilitate the dialogue in the best interest of the country.

Ambassador Robert Godec called it “the national conversation.” He did not confirm the actual amount, although our independent investigations shows Sh60 million initial capital for the talks.

Usually, the money would cater for the payment of a neutral venue and other miscellaneous expenditure incurred in the process, including transport, food and auxiliary staff.

The National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition led by Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula has been advancing their own model of dialogue, targeting drastic reforms in the Executive and governance of the country.

“We are working with Kenyan business, religious and community leaders, as well as other international partners on organising a potential National Conversation and we have funds to support it,” Godec said while confirming that there is such a kitty.

Last week, Wiper Democratic Movement leader Kalonzo Musyoka said that although he was supportive of dialogue, he was opposed to foreign diplomats and the church participating in it. He blamed them for endorsing the “fraud” that was the October 26, 2017 presidential election.

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The feeling of the US government, however, has been that the horse has bolted with the swearing in of President Uhuru Kenyatta and that the most the NASA leadership can do is to talk with Jubilee administration to address their grievances.

“The US is committed to a national conversation involving all Kenyans to build national unity, address long-standing issues and resolve divisions exacerbated by the 2017 electoral process,” Godec said.

In 2008, a similar dialogue supported by the US government, African Union and other donors went underway in Serena Hotel in Nairobi under the chairmanship of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

The dialogue identified a four point agenda -- cessation of violence, addressing of the humanitarian situation which obtained in the country at the time, striking a political solution and addressing long term issues informing the crisis.

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