Kenyan President William Ruto has called for calm amid escalating tensions in the country following protests by the Azimio Leadership.
Speaking during a press conference on April 2, 2023, President Ruto urged the opposition Leader Raila Odinga to call off the demonstrations and engage in a bi-partisan approach to address issues affecting the country.
In a statement, President Ruto expressed his willingness to engage the opposition on issues that are important to Kenyans, stating that it’s not about who is right or wrong, but rather about finding solutions.
“Our position is that we want to engage our brothers and sisters on the other side on issues that are important to Kenyans, them as an opposition, us as a government,” President Ruto said.
He went on to say that the country cannot afford to be in the position that it was put in by the handshake agreement between the government and the opposition, where there is no distinction between the two.
He stressed the need for a clear separation of powers and responsibilities between the government and the opposition.
President Ruto also expressed his concern over the recent protests by the opposition, which have led to loss of lives and property.
He called on opposition leader Raila Odinga to call off the demonstrations and give the bi-partisan approach a chance to take the country forward.
“Considering the matters raised by our friends in the opposition, I suggest a bi-partisan engagement in Parliament on the reconstitution of the IEBC panel within the parameters of the law and the Constitution,” he said.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was at the center of a political dispute between the government and the opposition during the 2022 presidential elections.
The opposition had accused the IEBC of manipulating the results in favor of the government, leading to violent protests.
However, Ruto emphasized that the IEBC conducted a free, fair and transparent election on August 9, 2022, and that the Supreme Court had heard and determined the election dispute with finality. He urged the opposition to accept the court’s decision and move on.
“We cannot allow these efforts to be derailed by acts of violence, chaos, and anarchy,” Ruto said. “Let us give peace a chance and work together towards building a better future for all Kenyans.”
The recent protests by the opposition have raised concerns over the country’s stability and the potential for a repeat of the 2007-2008 post-election violence that left over 1,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.
Ruto’s call for calm and a bi-partisan approach has been welcomed by some Kenyans who believe that it is the only way to address the country’s challenges.
However, some opposition supporters have criticized Ruto’s call for a bi-partisan approach, arguing that it’s a ploy to undermine their efforts to push for electoral reforms.