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Extremism Blocks RaiRuto Talks

In recent days, religious leaders and members of various professional associations in the country have been at the forefront of pressuring President Ruto to hold talks with Mr Odinga, saying that protests will disrupt the peace and economy of the country.

But several leaders in President Ruto’s camp, led by his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua, the leader of the majority in the National Assembly Kimani Ichung’wa, his colleague in the Senate Aaron Cheruiyot have ignored the calls.

They maintain that President Ruto should not hold any talks with Mr Odinga who they claim wants to incite violence in the country so that he can “enter the government through handshake”.

Speaking on Friday in an interview on radio stations that broadcast in the Agikuyu language, Mr Gachagua insisted that President Ruto should not negotiate with Mr Odinga as he has a history of disrupting the governments of former presidents.

“This is a person whose history we know of destroying elected governments. He harassed Uhuru until he succeeded in entering the government through handishek. Similarly, he disturbed presidents Mwai Kibaki and Daniel Moi through such demonstrations. I want to tell him that while I am in this government of William Ruto, he should forget that I am not confident at all,” he said.

He added: “The children of Raila and Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper leader) are in the East African Community (EALA) Parliament, in Tanzania. Don’t mislead Kenyans and use children to protest. We know the sponsor. Raila has no authority to call or declare a day off on Monday.”

Mr Gachagua said the unique conversation that the government can have with Odinga is how he will retire from politics and go to his home in Bondo.

“We want our people to continue their activities as usual on Monday without any fear,” he explained.

And at a meeting with journalists in the Parliament buildings, on Thursday this week Mr Ichung’wa led 20 Kenyan parliamentarians to maintain that President Ruto cannot negotiate with Mr Odinga claiming he is planning a coup of the “democratically elected” government.

“President Ruto has no time to talk to someone like Raila who is planning to commit treason through illegal protests. Kenyans have given him the responsibility to work for them,” he said.

“The previous governments may have made Raila feel that he is above the law. But we are here to make sure that the law prevails. If any violence happens on Monday, he will be responsible,” said the Kikuyu member of parliament and was supported by the majority leader Silvanus Osoro.

Other Kenya Kwanza politicians who have urged President Ruto to dismiss Mr Odinga include Senate Minority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot, Samson Cherargei (Senator Nandi), George Murugara (Kiambu Member of Parliament), John Kaguchia (Mukurweini), among others .

In the Azimio wing, the extremist group is led by the minority leader in the national assembly Opiyo Wandayi, Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna, Ledama Olekina (Nairobi senator), among others.

“We want to announce to all Kenyans that Monday’s protest in Nairobi will continue as planned. There is nothing that will stop us from meeting in Nairobi to demand what is our right,” Mr Wandayi said at a press conference on Thursday at the Parliament building.

On his part, Mr Sifuna said supporters of the Declaration have the constitutional right to protest anywhere in the country and Kenya First supporters do not have the authority to raise any objections.

“We gave the Ruto administration 14 days to address our demands, including a reduction in the cost of living and the opening of IEBC servers. But so far all they have been doing is beating their chests. Now on Monday, Kenyans will call for their rights,” said the ODM Secretary General.

Earlier this week, religious leaders asked President Ruto to show leadership qualities by negotiating with opposition leaders for the benefit of the country.

In addition, they asked Mr Odinga to cancel Monday’s protest and embrace negotiations.

“Political leaders led by President Ruto and Azimio leader Mr Odinga should stop actions and statements that could cause chaos. These two should sit together and talk to remove the confusion in the country; the conversation is not credible,” said Bishop Martin Kivuva of the Mombasa Catholic Church.




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