Ruto, Raila talks only path to national healing

Tuesday, August 1st, 2023 05:00 | By
Ruto, Raila talks only path to national healing

The fate of the Kenyan nation lies in the hands of God and two men – President William Ruto and Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance leader Raila Odinga.

This is a view shared by many religious leaders of all faiths, civil society, the international community and, most importantly, rightful thinking citizens of our beloved country.

Not even the closest allies and staunch supporters of the two diametrically divergent political adversaries can attempt to shoulder the weight of national expectations they hold.

While the nation is pregnant with anticipation that the two leaders’ talks preceding honest all-inclusive dialogue for peace, national healing and reconciliation, will finally start, serious doubts persist.

A wide ideological gulf exists between the leadership of the two dominant political factions, Kenya Kwanza led by Ruto and the Raila-led Azimio as amid Kenya’s worst political crisis since independence.

One would think that Kenya, a country known for its democratic traditions and regular electoral processes (however flawed) and the acclaimed 2010 Constitution, is in the middle of a mild civil war.

The situation has not been helped by a belligerent political class, especially from the ruling coalition that has adopted a hostile winner-takes it all attitude towards its worthy opponents.

Denigrating bellicose statements by some hawkish leaders in the top hierarchy known to be close allies of the President has not endeared him to the general populace, not least those in Opposition strongholds.

The bipartisan talks Ruto mooted after mass protests in March have since collapsed in the wake of the hardline stance adopted by hawks in President’s side and the tough conditions imposed by the Opposition in retaliation at this confrontational posture.

Since the heated campaigns before the last presidential election that ended in a disputed cliff-hanger win for President Ruto, the nation has not known peace, compounded by a harsh economic climate.

Cries for electoral justice that failed to placate a dissatisfied Opposition feeling cheated meshed with a virulent economy and gelled into a national crisis fueled by the high cost of living for the majority. Nobody across the supporters of either side of the political divide has been spared, presenting Ruto’s just under one-year administration with a severe political and economic test. Some of Ruto’s pronouncements and actions including those related to economic justice and appointments to public positions have been unpopular, prompting a public and Opposition backlash.

By luring scores of Azimio MPs to his Kenya Kwanza political faction to secure a majority in Parliament, Ruto emasculated the independence of the Legislature. With a lopsided House rubber-stamping Executive wishes, the Opposition embraced the court of public opinion to advance its political agenda.

Latching onto public discontent at the unpopular Finance Bill, 2023, they turned the litany of promises made to millions of “hustlers” (Mama Mboga, boda boda and unemployed youth) into an effective weapon of mass protest against the government’s unpopular policies.

President Ruto needs to demonstrate statesman qualities as a national leader and engage with Raila in an atmosphere of mutual trust for the sake of national healing and reconciliation. He must adhere to the constitutional office and live up to the vow he made to serve all Kenyans without fear or favour, including those who did not vote for him.

The two leaders have worked politically together before and should not find it difficult to streamline their differences into a cause for national redemption.

— The writer comments on political and economic affairs.

Email: [email protected]

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