Ruto, Raila allies unite to back talks

dialogue team

From left: Members of national dialogue committee Senator Okong’o Omogeni, National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi, National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah and DAP-K party leader Eugene Wamalwa at the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi,  on August 14, 2023.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Members of Parliament allied to President William Ruto and Opposition leader Raila Odinga last evening (August 16) joined forces to provide legal backing to the National Dialogue Committee.

In a rare display of unity during a late-night session, the lawmakers passed a motion formally establishing the 10-member bipartisan team responsible for negotiating resolutions following the 2022 post-election crisis.

Both the Majority and Minority sides in the National Assembly also agreed that the talks should provide electoral reforms to prevent another cycle of a political standoff over disputed election outcomes.

The MPs, however, ruled out possible power-sharing between the ruling Kenya Kwanza and Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition.

The two sides showered President Ruto and Mr Odinga with praises for agreeing to talk.

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah and his Minority counterpart Opiyo Wandayi rallied the House in adopting the motion, highlighting the need to resolve the standoff that has raged on for a year.

Scores have died, others seriously wounded and properties destroyed following a series of chaotic nationwide street protests called by the Opposition.

Mr Ichung’wah said both sides had made it clear that they were not interested in any form of power-sharing.

He said the talks were intended to produce reforms that would effectively eliminate the use of violence as a means to challenge election outcomes.


“This dialogue is as a result of a consultative meeting between President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga. These are two eminent leaders in our country. They agreed there is a need for dialogue. This is a call for Kenyans to come and reason together,” said Mr Ichung’wah.

He said the approval of the motion by both Houses of Parliament would grant legal support, enabling the MPs to authorise any legislative or constitutional interventions suggested by the negotiating team.

“Raila is on record that he is not interested in any form of power-sharing. This dialogue seeks is to entrench constitutionalism in our country so that after every election, whoever wins is allowed to govern,” said the Kikuyu MP.

Meaningful oversight

He went on: “We want to dialogue with our colleagues for them to take their minority role and to offer meaningful oversight. We have said it is time to listen to each other.”

For his part, Mr Wandayi said it was in the interest of every Kenyan to have a peaceful country that can attract investors.

He said the dispute stemming from the 2022 presidential election had to be addressed for the country to move forward.

“No investor can invest their money in an environment of instability and chaos. Whether you are in government or in opposition, we have to create an environment to allow investors in our country. We have to look at our elections,” said the Ugunja MP.

He went on: “We want a culture of free and credible elections. We are not getting into the talks with the intention to seek any position, we are not seeking a half or a quarter loaf.”

He said the opposition has listed the high cost of living as its number one agenda item. He said the talks would be about the issues affecting the majority of Kenyans.

“If there is any one single issue that can rally Kenyans to come out to the streets is the cost of living. We will be doing injustice if we gloss over the matter. We want to move with the people on this matter,” he added.

Kathiani MP Robert Mbui said the political class has to stop using divisive language so that the talks can yield the desired outcome.

He said some politicians have ended up polarizing the country through remarks that suggest that only regions that backed Kenya Kwanza are entitled to benefit from government programs.

“It is a rare moment that the majority and minority have agreed to reason together. What we are looking for is a lasting solution because those in the opposition at the moment will be in government at one point and those in government in the opposition,” said Mr Mbui.

“We must be very careful what we say because it is on the basis of what we say that we end up polarizing our country. We need to deal with the issues affecting the people, not about the positions of the Opposition Leader and Prime Cabinet Secretary,” he added.

Dadaad MP Farah Maalim said there was need for electoral reforms to ensure the polls are credible so that those who lose accept the outcome. All members who contributed during the debate backed the motion but suggested the need for reforms to avoid a cycle of electoral dispute.

The 10-member team will submit its report to Parliament within 60 days. The report will be handed to President Ruto and Mr Odinga before being taken to Parliament for approval by MPs.

National Dialogue Team

The motion has also opened the talks to the public. The National Dialogue Team is expected to collect views and receive submissions from various stakeholders.

 “That the National Dialogue Committee shall report to the Leadership of Kenya Kwanza and Azimio Coalitions within 60 days and after that, submit its report to Parliament,” states the motion adopted by the House last night.

 “In the execution of its mandate, the National Dialogue Committee may invite, engage with and consider submissions from stakeholders, collate views from the public and engage experts, professionals and other technical resource persons as necessary,” it adds.

Kenya Kwanza had listed the reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), implementation of the two-thirds gender rule, entrenchment of the Constituency Development Fund, creation of the Office of the Leader of the Opposition and entrenchment of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary in the Constitution.

Constitutional issues

 Azimio wants the high cost of living, audit of the 2022 presidential election results, preventing interference with political parties and outstanding constitutional issues on governance, adequate checks and balances and delimitation of boundaries added to the list.

Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka will lead the Azimio team with Mr Wandayi serving as Deputy Delegation Leader. Other members of the opposition team are Former Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Nyamira Senator Okong’o Mogeni and Malindi MP.

In Kenya Kwanza, Kimani Ichungw’ah will serve as Delegation Leader with Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire deputizing him. Others in the team are Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, EALA MP Hassan Omar and Bungoma MP Catherine Wambilianga.

The eight-member technical team formed by the two camps shall support the National Dialogue Committee to review framework agreement and framing of the agenda for the negotiations.

Kenya Kwanza Alliance has High Court Advocate Muthomi Thiankolu, Dr Linda Musumba, a law lecturer and an advocate, lawyer Nick Biketi and law lecturer Dr Duncan Ojwang in its technical team.

Azimio on the other hand has Mr Kioni, university lecturer Dr Adams Oloo, former East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) MP Zein Abubakar and Isabel Githinji.