Ruto, Raila truce lauded but many want hardliners kept off dialogue

President William Ruto and Opposition leader Raila Odinga. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Kenyans have hailed the truce between President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga, saying the move has calmed down political tension.

The business community and political leaders said the new development would pave the way for fruitful negotiations, but ruled out any arrangements for a handshake.

In Nakuru, supporters of the various political factions and the business community lauded President Ruto and Raila for agreeing to hold talks.

Addressing the press separately, the allies called on their respective leaders to ensure the talks are centred on the needs of ordinary persons and their peaceful coexistence.

The business community led by Central Rift matatu owners chair Stephen Muli said many sectors had been affected and that the resolve to hold bipartisan talks was welcome.

“There has not been serious protests in Nakuru but we have felt the impact. Nairobi is the gateway to other parts of the country, and when unstable, everyone else feels the pinch,” said Muli.

Muli, who doubles as the chair of the Nakuru Business Community, described the two leaders as selfless in their move, noting that the country was confident that the talks would not flop.

He called on the two leaders to ensure they select selfless leaders to hold the talks in and outside Parliament, warning that tasking hardliners would plunge the country back into chaos.

Former Nakuru Speaker Joel Kairu, who chairs the Azimio coalition in the county, said that the decision by Raila to call off the weekly mass action protests was wise and welcome.

He said the decision by Raila to agree to talks with Ruto was not immediately welcomed by some of his supporters, but many have faith in him to lead them in the right direction.

“Some of us were shocked when we saw Raila yield and call off the protests. It may be an unpopular decision among some of us, but the end is what keeps us behind him today,” he said.

According to him, the two should ensure all the issues raised by the opposition are addressed to ensure all Kenyans feel part of the current administration.

ODM Nakuru branch chairperson Benard Miruka expressed confidence that the two leaders will have resolved the issues raised by the opposition within a week to avert further protests.

In North Rift, Soy MP David Kiplagat said Parliament is the best place for leaders to engage in a meaningful discussion on the issues raised by the opposition.

“Even before the start of the demonstrations, the president had written to the speaker of the National assembly requesting if they could consider a raft of issues, including the two-thirds gender rule and the post of official leader of opposition,” he said but ruled out any plans to accommodate the opposition in government.

The legislator said the most pressing issue for the opposition is the composition of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) selection panel, pointing out that views Kenyans should be taken to make the process acceptable. The composition of the IEBC selection panel has been one of the reasons for the opposition protests, the others being lowering the cost of living and opening the electoral servers to audit last year’s presidential election that Raila claims was rigged.

Pokot South MP David Pkosing said Kenya is a handshake democracy, and therefore Kenyans do not make outright decisions during elections.

He added that since the inception of the new Constitution, there has never been an outright winner.

"These are our unique circumstances on why we are a handshake democracy. Kenyans do not want a winner takes it all system. They want inclusivity," he said.

Mr Joel Chebii, the first vice chairman of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions, said the truce would spur a conducive environment for local and foreign investors due to stability.

ODM Kisii County Chairman Kerosi Ondieki said at least, President Ruto spoke as a statesman.

“Leaders are people who should make hard and difficult decisions. I hope we will have detailed deliberations. This is not about President Ruto or Raila, it is a win for Kenyans,” said Ondieki.

National Assembly Majority Chief Whip Sylvanus Osoro said President Ruto yesterday asked them to consider the bi-partisan approach in the several issues that are beneficial to Mwananchi and the political class.

Luo elders hailed Raila for calling off demonstrations. Chairman of a faction of the Luo Council of Elders Nyandiko Ongadi welcomed the action taken by the opposition leader.

He applauded Ruto and Raila for getting a common ground for stopping the demonstrations

In Migori, businessman Onyango Japolo said Ruto saw the need to hold talks with Raila.

“We thank him for accepting to sit and talk with the president for the country to get back to normal,” said Japolo.

[Reporting by Kennedy Gachuhi, Irissheel Shanzu, Titus Too and Martin Ndiema, Anne Atieno, Eric Abuga and James Omoro]  

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