Inside Politics

Protests: Ruto, Raila calls for talks draw ire

Wednesday, July 10th, 2024 04:30 | By
Screengrab of People Daily Front page for Wednesday, July 10. 2024. PHOTO/ People Daily

President William Ruto and Opposition leader Raila Odinga yesterday faced a serious backlash from key political leaders and ordinary Kenyans, who dismissed their calls for a dialogue following two weeks countrywide protests over the 2024 Finance Bill.

Several leaders allied to President Ruto and Raila took to their social media pages to reject the calls for dialogue, accusing them of attempting to hijack a process initiated by Generation Z for their own selfish political interests.

Among those who disowned the talks outright were Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, her Democratic Action Party (DAP-K) counterpart Eugene Wamalwa, Jubilee secretary general Jeremiah Kioni (all Azimio principals), Raila Odinga Jr, Odinga’s son, and former MP and multiparty politics crusader Gitobu Imanyara.

Others were former Migori Woman Rep Pamela Odhiambo and former Ndhiwa legislator Augustine Neto.

Bear own costs

Wiper leader and Azimio principal Kalonzo Musyoka, who was present when the announcement was made, appeared to backtrack last night, posting several messages on his X page accusing Ruto’s government of orchestrating the current crisis.

The backlash came hours after Ruto announced the creation of a multi-sectoral forum to look into issues raised by Gen Z.

Addressing the media at the KICC in Nairobi earlier in the day, Ruto and Raila said the forum will encompass 150 members, 50 of them young people, while 100 will be drawn from religious groups, civil society, professional organisations and political parties, among other stakeholders.

Ruto said participants will bear their own costs in line with the government’s austerity policies. “The various stakeholders will be required to submit their representatives by Friday this week. It will be a six-day forum and will propose the way forward for the country,” he said.

Speaking during the signing into law of the IEBC (Amendment) Bill, the President: “We have had consultations and agreed that, to bring the country together to focus on the issues of priority, we will move ahead with the multi-sectoral forum,” he said.

Odinga, who asked that representatives of political parties, religious groups, civil society, employers, professionals and lecturers be included, said leaders had agreed that dialogue is the only way forward out of the current situation.

“We have agreed to give the people an opportunity to be heard and to articulate the grievances that are ailing our country so that a lasting solution can be found,” he said.

He added: “Because of restrictions of resources or limitation of resources, we’ve agreed that everybody else will bear [the] cost of coming to this meeting.

“But we want it to be a really very engaging conversation, and the way forward is that we deal with fundamental issues that are affecting our society today.”

Kalonzo backtracks

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua also supported the calls for talks and pleaded with Gen Zs to agree to a dialogue.

Gachagua said: “I call on our vibrant Gen Z to come to the table for dialogue. By working together, we can overcome challenges and build a brighter future for Kenya.

“I encourage every citizen to support this initiative as dialogue is the key to resolving our differences and fostering national harmony.
“In the spirit of reconciliation, I ask all Kenyans to participate in these discussions with an open heart and mind,” he added.

But immediately after they finished talking, their lieutenants hit back, asking Kenyans to reject the planned dialogue calls as it had been hijacked by the political class.

Kalonzo, in a series of messages posted on his X page, backtracked from calls for a dialogue after sensing the public outrage on social media.

In a series of messages, Kalonzo accused the Ruto government of failing to address the cost of living and to implement the NADCO report. He said: “Kenya’s Gen Z have set the standard and are demanding action. Kenya would not be in this crisis if the Ruto regime had listened and addressed the No: 1 problem of the cost of living, as well as fully implementing the NADCO Report.

“Instead, they prevaricated. They dragged their feet. The Ruto regime showed no political goodwill. The Gen Z revolution is a result of Ruto’s inaction.”

He added: “Mr President @WilliamsRuto, there is no way you can wish the Gen Z revo

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