Kenya’s President William Ruto asked the opposition on Sunday to give talks with the government a chance while his main opponent urged his followers to protest again over electoral reforms and the high cost of living.
Thousands participated in three days of protests over two weeks in late March marred by clashes between protesters and police. The protests partly stem from accusations of fraud in last August’s presidential election in which Ruto narrowly beat Raila Odinga.
On Thursday, Odinga said the opposition would resume protests after the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan, to coincide with talks between it and the government. Ruto’s ruling coalition has said the vote was fair, defended its economic record and called for the protests to stop, saying they cast doubt over the opposition’s sincerity in participating in the talks.
“Why don’t we seek what we leaders want without chaos, no destruction of property, so that we can attend to the citizens’ demands, while we discuss what we want?” Ruto said.
Odinga’s Azimio La Umoja (Declaration of Unity) Alliance and Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza (Kenya First) alliance disagree about the content of the talks and who should steer them. Kenya Kwanza wants the talks to involve only lawmakers and discuss only the selection of electoral officials. Azimio says others should take part and the talks should also review the 2022 elections and discuss measures to address the cost of living.
The talks are due to start on Tuesday, Senate Majority leader Aaron Cheruiyot said on Saturday. In late March, Odinga suspended the protests after an appeal from Ruto, but he repeated his call for protests at a rally in Nairobi on Sunday.
“If we don’t hear from Ruto next week, when Ramadan ends, we are going back to the streets,” he said.
- A Reuters report