Dialogue will help Kenya to avoid a ‘Sudan’

President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga at Kipkeino Classic at Moi Sports Center Kasarani

President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga at Kipkeino Classic at Moi Sports Center Kasarani on May 13, 2023.

Photo credit: Pool

At Mukami Kimathi’s burial, two protagonists, President William Ruto and opposition chief Raila Odinga, proved to the nation that the ice can be thawed.

Although the tension was so high you could cut through it with a knife, common sense prevailed and the leaders proved they are patriotic and can meet in the middle. In a weekend of firsts, they again met at Kasarani stadium that afternoon and the following day.

All is not lost. The continent has examples of countries that went to the dogs and became banana republics just because their leaders missed the bigger picture of why independence was sought through blood, sweat and tears. Sudan is a glaring example of how a rich country with enviable resources has imploded. It is on fire because two erstwhile partners are flexing muscles. 

Sudan’s history is replete with betrayal. Although the international community is trying to bring the belligerents to the negotiation table, the damage, especially in the capital Khartoum, is regrettable. Loss of life and displacement is just shameful.

It can happen in Kenya if the script of Dr Ruto and Raila is not properly drafted and edited onto the route of reconciliation. These gentlemen worked together for a long time—since their Orange Democratic Movement days of the 2005 constitution referendum. Then-President Mwai Kibaki and his Banana team would, shockingly, lose to a determined Orange side where a Raila-Ruto cog moved the opposition wheel. 

Wrong way to go

Their parting was acrimonious after the 2007 General Election, which sent the country to the edge of the cliff. But we are back to the same script after the August 9 presidential election. Street protests, which Raila has perfected, are the norm. This is the wrong way to go in a country facing many challenges, such as hunger in most places, not fully addressed and the cost of living skyrocketing.

If Kenya moves along this path, it will burn; the Sudan scenario will be child’s play. The situation in the country is one that needs sober leadership. We are at a crossroads. Solomonic wisdom is needed.

Kenyans voted on August 9 last year. The results were declared and the winner was named. The Opposition went to the highest court in the land and a verdict was given.

Kenya has to move on. It has been said before and we don’t have to keep on hammering it home: This country is more important than any individual. It belongs to that league which respects democratic institutions such as democratic elections every predetermined cycle. We honour multi-partyism and the right to choose.

Grievances will always be there during elections but there are avenues protected by the Constitution that give any dissatisfied Kenyan a safe landing. This must be the shield that should always be used to guide this country. Our national anthem says, “Justice be our shield and defender.” 

Many countries in Africa have imploded due to short-sighted greedy leaders. Let Kenya not.

Mr Kigo is an environmentalist. [email protected].