Ruto meets parliamentary leadership as plans to set up bipartisan committee kick-off

Written by on 4 April 2023

President William Ruto on Monday, April 3, 2023, asked the Parliamentary leadership to consider his proposal for a bipartisan approach to address issues raised by opposition leader Raila Odinga.

In a statement after a meeting with the majority side in the National Assembly and Senate, the Head of State said he had instructed the teams to consider the proposal as a matter of priority.

“We are convinced the issues shall be conclusively handled by Parliament in order to allow us focus on our economic transformation programme,” President Ruto said in a tweet.

Present at the State House meeting whose main agenda was to establish a framework for the bipartisan strategy were National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah and his Senate counterpart Aaron Cheruiyot.

Other leaders present were Deputy Leader of the Majority Owen Baya, Whip of the Majority side Sylvanus Osoro and his deputy Naomi Waqo.

Senate’s Deputy Leader of the Majority Tabitha Karanja and Deputy Minority Whip Ltembesi Lelegwe also attended the meeting.

The meeting came a day after Azimio la Umoja- One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga accepted Ruto’s olive branch and calls for dialogue to address, among other issues, the reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Speaking in Nairobi on Sunday, Raila, while calling off anti-government demonstrations that had been scheduled for (Monday) today, demanded that the bipartisan committee proposed by Ruto be established immediately.

The opposition supremo, however, warned that Azimio would return to the streets within a week should the talks fail.

“We agree that a balanced parliamentary process co-chaired by both sides and backed by experts from outside should proceed. In our view, this committee should be composed with immediate effect with strict deadlines for resolving the crisis facing the country,” Raila said.

“In view of the foregoing, we stand down our demonstrations for Monday but in doing so we want to emphasise that we reserve the right to call for demonstrations should this process bear no fruit. Should there be no meaningful engagement or response from Hon Ruto to our counter-offer, we’ll resolve to resume our demonstrations after one week.”

President Ruto had earlier said the protests called by the opposition chief to push for electoral and economic reforms had left a trail of destruction and loss of lives, threatening the country’s economic stability.

“Three Kenyans, among them a police officer have lost their lives in the protests. More than four hundred Kenyans, including at least 60 security officers have been injured. A Police vehicle was burnt to ashes, while another was hijacked and commandeered by unruly protestors. Two houses of worship were burnt down. Kiosks, supermarkets and a mortuary were looted.

“Our Country’s image and history in the league of Modern Nations has been at stake. The Country’s economy has been hard hit, at a time when my administration is doing everything possible to salvage the economy from the deep hole it was in.

He called on the opposition leader to call off further protests to give dialogue a chance.

“I have listened to the issues raised by my friend, the Honorable Raila Odinga, in times like these, it is not about who is right or who is wrong,” Ruto said in a State of the Nation address from State House on Monday.

“In view of the recent events that led to the loss of lives and property in the demonstrations, I urge my brother Raila Odinga and the opposition to call off the demonstrations and to give this bi-partisan approach a chance for us to take the country forward.”

Raila, who accuses the IEBC of denying him victory in the last presidential election, had expressed his reservations over the recently passed the IEBC (Amendment) Bill 2022 that altered the first schedule of the parent Act, to change the composition of the selection panel that oversees the filling of vacancies at the commission.

He also opposed the appointment of a seven-member panel to recruit the new electoral officials.

He accused Ruto of deliberate attempts to influence the recruitment of the new team that will replace commissioners who retired, resigned or were removed from office over gross misconduct and abuse of office.

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