Supkem backs Ruto, Raila dialogue teams report

 Hassan Ole Naado

Supkem Chairman Hassan Ole Naado and other leaders address the media at the Islamic House in Nairobi on December 3, 2023.

Photo credit: Cecil Odongo | Nation Media Group

The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) has endorsed the report of the National Dialogue Committee released last month but rejected the proposal to create the positions of two deputy leaders of the opposition.

Supkem Chairman Hassan Alhaji Ole Naado said on Sunday the council believes the report will help bring a truce after political parties and Kenyans were divided after the 2022 General Election. However, the council rejected the proposed creation of opposition seats, saying they would put more burden on taxpayers.

"As much as we believe this recommendation seeks to end the 'winner takes it all' problem after every election, Supkem cautions against creating new positions whose sustainability will put more burden on the taxpayer," Mr Naado said.

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“We urged caution as we create the position of the Official Leader of Opposition and Office of the Prime Minister respectively,” he added.

The Supkem supremo, who spoke at the Islamic House in Nairobi Central Business District, was accompanied by Supkem Secretary-General Abdullahi Salat among other officials.

The National Dialogue Committee Report was unveiled on November 25 after months of intense negotiations between the ruling Kenya Kwanza and Azimio coalitions after the opposition resorted to protests over the result of the 2022 elections and the rising cost of living.

The Kenya Kwanza side was led by Majority Leader and Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah while the Azimio side was steered by Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka.

On Sunday, Supkem said the government and the opposition should agree on a NO CONTEST referendum while creating the establishment of the two offices of Prime Minister and Official Leader of the Opposition.

“These will help avoid the usual political fallout that has characterised previous referendums,” said Mr Naado.

The Nadco report proposed an Audit of the 2022 Electoral Process and restructuring of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission but failed to reach a consensus on the emotive issue of the cost of living.

On the cost of living, Supkem has sided with the opposition in calling for the scrapping of housing levy, zero-rating of Value Added Tax (VAT) on basic food items and reversing the punitive turnover tax it says has led to the closure of small and medium business.

Supkem officials also want VAT on petroleum products reduced from 16 percent to eight percent and reducing the road maintenance levy by Sh5 per litre. Currently, the levy is at Sh18 and if the reduction is effected it will come to Sh13.

However, the council lamented on the return of wanton corruption touching on the recent alleged loss of Sh9.3 billion cooking oil which is said to have reportedly disappeared amid government investigations.

Mr Naado also took on President William Ruto over his promise before 2022 general elections that abduction incidents witnessed in previous years will be a thing of the past in his regime.

“There is a spike in unexplained disappearances especially among the Muslim Community in unclear circumstances that are reminiscent of the past. This must stop and proper channels must be followed even as the government and its apparatus seek to protect national security,” said the official.

The council however lauded the government for the ongoing efforts in saving Kenyans who have been affected by the El Nino rains. The government has established an emergency kitty to assist those affected and Mr Naado said the funds should be used for the intended purpose rather than being misappropriated.