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How emissaries, envoys brokered political truce between Raila, Ruto

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

Talks between opposition leaders and government, pressure from the international community and clerics led to a political truce between President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga.

President Ruto on Sunday, April 2, urged Raila to call off demonstrations, saying he has listened to their demands and suggested a bi-partisan engagement in Parliament on the reconstitution of the IEBC panel within the parameters of the law.

The Head of State's call to the opposition leader came on the eve of what Azimio had declared would be "mother of all" protests on Monday, April 3, after holding three demonstrations in the past two weeks.

"In view of the recent events that led to the loss of lives and destruction of property, I urge Hon. Raila Odinga to call off any further demonstrations," said Ruto.

Raila yesterday called off the protests hours after the president's address, saying that he welcomed his olive branch and gave him one week to meet the Azimio demands.

"Today Hon William Ruto has issued what I regard as an important statement since the election. We have met and listened to a diverse group of Kenyans including religious leaders about the crisis facing our country, I welcome the olive branch by Hon Ruto," he said.

Sources within the government and the opposition told The Standard that talks to reach the political truce began three days ago when the president jetted into the country from a four-day tour of Germany and Belgium.

The behind-the-scenes efforts were spearheaded by emissaries including two MPs from Kenya Kwanza and Azimio who are close to the President and Raila and the international community.

On Sunday last week, foreign envoys and Azimio leader held a two-and-a-half-hour meeting at a Nairobi hotel where they implored him to call off the demonstrations.

Days later, Unites State's Delaware Senator Chris Coons and a number of clerics met with Raila urging him to call off the protests.

The talks between Ruto and Raila through emissaries that began on Friday led to the climb down by the two groups.

Yesterday, the President said that he was always been ready to engage Kenyans from all walks of life, including elected and appointed leaders from across the political divide, and the religious fraternity on how to make the country better and more prosperous.

"I have carefully listened to the issues raised by Honorable Raila Odinga. In times like these, it is not about who is right or who is wrong. As Winston Churchill said, I dare say that "courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, but it is also what it takes to sit down and listen," said Ruto

"My door still remains open for honest, objective, and sincere deliberations, based on the rule of law and the Constitution," he added.

An MP who is close Raila said talks in the last two days brokered a political truce. "We had talks, back and forth for the last two days and it ended in the resolve to have a peaceful agreement on the matters we as Azimio had raised and that led to the call off of the demonstrations," said the MP.

During the talks both parties were in agreement that protests must come to an end.

For Raila the MP said, he was concerned that the protests were picking momentum, the supporters were expectant and he did not have an end game.

"There was a need for a safe passage to exiting the protests. The government was also concerned that the protests were affecting the economy and the image of the country. We met at the middle ground," said the MP.

During the address at State House, Nairobi, yesterday the president said as a democrat and guided by the Constitution on December 9, 2022, sent a memorandum to speakers of the National Assembly and Senate, requesting for purposive intervention on the implementation of the two-thirds gender rule; entrenchment in the NG-CDF in the law and the establishment of the position of the leader of the official opposition.

"The IEBC selection panel and the future process of recruitment of its Commissioners could as well be part of a conversation leading to Constitutionally and legally binding proposals, through a bi-partisan Parliamentary process," said Ruto.

The president said that in the last two weeks, the country had experienced grave acts of lawlessness, widespread violence, looting, and invasion of private property by persons taking advantage of political demonstrations, called by the opposition.

He noted that three people including a police officer lost their lives during the protests while more than 400 people including at least 60 security officers sustained injuries.

"A police vehicle was set ablaze, while another was hijacked and commandeered by unruly protestors. Two houses of worship were burnt down. Kiosks, supermarkets, and a mortuary were looted. Our country's image and history in the league of modern nations have been at stake," said the President.

The president regretted that the economy was hit hard, at a time when his administration was doing everything possible to revive it.

"My administration has instituted solid measures and policies to attract investors, and through their investment, create opportunities for millions of our young people to realize their potential. We cannot allow these efforts to be derailed by acts of violence, chaos, and anarchy," said Ruto.

The president maintained that IEBC conducted a free, fair, and transparent General Election on August 9, 2022, that was observed by different organisations; local and foreign.

"The Supreme Court of Kenya heard and determined with finality, the 2022 Presidential election dispute and ruled on the petitions that were filed by the aggrieved contestants and their supporters," he said.

He called on Kenyans to remain peaceful and law-abiding and assured them that the government will continue with its sacred duty of protecting lives and property.

Earlier on Sunday, the president and Raila were missing in public.

President Ruto has been attending church service since he was sworn in.

While Raila failed to turn up for a church service at AIPCA Ruiru in Kiambu county despite other Azimio principals including Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) and Martha Karua (Narc Kenya), were in attendance.

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