Azimio, Kenya Kwanza leaders up in arms over Raila-Ruto talks

The possibility of President William Ruto and Opposition Chief Raila Odinga agreeing to meet and find a solution to the current political impasse has united rival political camps in fear. 

With many fearing that the dialogue will be a  replica of the 2018 handshake between the then President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila or worse still, the 2008 grand coalition government, both teams fear the move may cost their political career by rendering them orphans. 

Many leaders in both Raila’s Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance and Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza coalition draw their political dividends by their ability to insult or respond to their rival counterparts and with a truce, their job will be done. 

Sources have revealed that the President may schedule a meeting with Raila at the Coast to lay ground for talks and this has thrown both camps into the drawing board as they may craft a new strategy to keep them afloat with their constituents. 

Some of the issues that Azimio has been spearheading include the independence of political parties after the Jubilee party take over from the grips of Uhuru Kenyatta to his political mentees who were with Uhuru in Azimio in last year’s elections. 

The issue of the Jubilee party has been so endeared in the Azimio coalition that they have maintained that it must be returned to Uhuru a move that may complicate the political arithmetic of the likes of MPs Sabina Chege (Nominated) and Kanini Kega (Eala) who have been sponsored by the Azimio coalition who may be among the first casualties. 

Other casualties would be Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua whose role, his allies fear, may be delegated to Raila as he would be the most sought-after politician by the President in the running of the country. 

In the Raila-Uhuru handshake, President Ruto, then deputy, was sidelined and had difficulties in discharging his mandate. 

Luckily for him, he was able to turn his misfortunes into sympathy and earned him followers that later elected him President.  

“This may not be the case with Gachagua because, unlike last term which marked the end of Uhuru’s rule, Ruto will automatically seek the second term and this may force Gachagua to align with the deal,” an MP in Mt Kenya opined. 

Raila’s running mate Martha Karua and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka may be the other casualties given that Kalonzo, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula were left out by Raila in 2018 forcing Nasa to break up. 

While in an interview with Spice FM, Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo admitted that the 2018 handshake came as a surprise to them and that it forced them to adapt and try to support government motions that were against their norm. 

The MP described the fear by both the government and the Opposition as schizophrenic

He said that those allied to President Ruto have fears of contentious talks on the 2022 elections, but want a conversation about 2027.

“The President’s side is fearful of any talks that take us to 2022, which demands the opening of the server but want to have a conversation about 2027.”

On the other hand, Amollo says, people like Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua fear that the talks will jeopardise their future.

“I get the sense that there are those like the deputy president who think that any sense of dialogue might put them in jeopardy in the future,” he said.

“They have this schizophrenic fear of any discussion, and they tend to start by outrightly refusing to talk. However, this doesn’t imply any form of ‘nusu mkate’ or handshake arrangement,” the Rarieda MP added.

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichungwa, in an apparent fear that Ruto-Raila dialogue may lead to a handshake, suggested that the talks be streamed live for Kenyans to know what was being discussed. 

“The Kenyan people are now telling you, and I’ve seen them in many platforms around the country, saying, as much as you can engage with the former prime minister and those on his side, please and engage with him, publicly, in a public forum, where Kenyans will be witnesses of the issues that you shall be discussing,” he said.

He demonstrated that the talks would involve the two leaders sitting in a room with a camera as they engaged. Ichung’wah said the talks would then be beamed on screens nationwide for all to watch and listen to the ideas meant to help Kenyans.

“We want to make it easier for you, your excellency, you will not never need a big meeting like this. If you get two seats, your seat, his seat and a camera, then you project it live on TV. We shall be able to watch all over the country and ensure that the issues you are engaging on issues that touch on Kenya,” he added.

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro in a Citizen TV interview this week said “there is one fear we are not willing to enter into and that is what we have seen after every election. People who lose in elections purporting to get into government through other ways.”

Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni said he would be the first one to oppose a handshake in the form of a power-sharing deal, saying it would beat the purpose of their protests over the high cost of living as there was no conjecture between the two issues. 

“If this will lead to me being christened a hardliner so be it. I did not consume teargas for the sake of myself but for the sake of the suffering of Kenyans. The multilateral approach must birth a constitutional moment in our country to address issues that afflict Mt Kenya and other regions,” he said.