African Union should help end rising tension in Kenya

When Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga met with African Union Chairperson Mousa Faki Mahamat at Capitol Hill Nairobi. [File, Standard]

Kenyans now generally feel there is need for President William Ruto and his nemesis Raila Odinga to meet and find solutions to their differences. The two should walk the talk on their recent declarations on need to hold talks.

While in Nandi recently, Ruto said he would talk with anybody about issues affecting Kenyans but not about handshake. While answering questions from the media, Raila also said he was willing to meet Ruto and talk, but after the Monday protests. From the look of things, the two most influential Kenyan politicians seem ready and willing to meet, but they lack a mediator.

Between them, it's clear none wants to take the initiative to place a call to the other. For the sake of the country, Ruto and Raila should not involve their handlers in this.

Some of their handlers seem happy with the current situation that gives them political 'bonga' points as they point fingers at each other. Raila excels in street battles and those thinking his threat to mobilise protests every Monday and Thursday is a joke had better think again.

I request the African Union to step in and help the two leaders come face to face and talk. A mere meeting of the two will calm the rising political tension across the country. On day one of Raila's demonstrations, DP Rigathi Gachagua said approximately Sh2 billion was lost.

That aside, lives were lost, Kenyans maimed and property worth millions destroyed. Matters might get worse if Raila actualises his threat to hold bi-weekly demonstrations,

Speaking in Mombasa after feeling the demonstration heat, Mr Gachagua urged Raila to call off the demonstrations. I applaud our media houses for uniting in condemning police brutality and for their campaign to have the two sides meet and talk.

There is no need to maintain hardline positions on issues that can easily compromise our nationhood. The leaders must bear in mind that they found a united Kenya before they gained their popularity and therefore should not divide Kenyans.

The property destroyed can be recovered after some time, but what about the lives that are lost during the demos? Law enforcers must also sit back and watch video clips of them brutalising unarmed Kenyans. They should also take time to watch how their South Africa counterparts handled demonstrations on the same day.

It was disgusting to see our officers using batons against already subdued demonstrators.

One would have expected them to guard key buildings and only act when the protestors ran amok. The AU will make sense and justify its existence if it reconciles Raila and Ruto. Such a states'-funded body cannot afford to sit back and pretend everything is okay during such times.

It can use its influence to avert chaos instead of waiting to send in troops as happens so often in other war torn African countries.

Mr Omanga is a media practitioner. [email protected]