Why Are Some Politicians So Scared About Peace Talks in Kenya?

12 mins read
Kenyans have to give both Ruto and Raila a thank-you vote for meeting by themselves and ignoring the noise makers to start the peace process. The way ahead is going to be tougher

President William Ruto met with Azimio leader Raila Odinga to lay the grounds for talks to bring peace in the country after more than 50 Kenyans have been killed by his government and many more terribly injured during mass actions that completely paralyzed the country and some politicians allied to Ruto are furious about that. What is their problem?

The likes of Mudavadi are making stupid statements that should embarrass anybody with basic common sense. Is he scared Ruto will fall out of love with him? If so that is his problem to deal with.

“Kenya is not in an international crisis. People should not pretend to be calling former Presidents to come and mediate on issues that can be resolved locally,” he stated.

“There is no crisis that calls for any intervention internationally, Kenya has not reached that phase that requires any foreign mediation,” Mudavadi said.

Muda, Kenyans are being killed by your government police in our streets. That is what an international crisis looks like.

Your government has been complaining about losing billions of revenue every day that Kenyans held demos with concerns about their lives and cost of living. That is an international crisis for Kenyans and maybe not for you with all the food you have for yourself to eat. If you don’t want to deal with that just retire from politics and go home. Kapish.

And then the big nonsense from KK leadership screaming ” We Will Not Talk About The Cost of Living for Kenyans”.

Can politicians, please shut up about that because you are telling Kenyans that the talks will not be about their lives but about politicians. Then why have the talks at all?

The politicians can go meet in Dubai or head to the beaches in Miami and dance themselves lame their patting each other in the back. When they come back they will find Kenyans in the streets everywhere demanding the right to live which means the right to have affordable food and cost of life.

The beginning of Azmio’s talks with Ruto has to be what to do with the Finance Act 2023/4. It is actually pretty simple. Start with the 8% increase of VAT which is going to impact every poor Kenyan regardless of their tribe or who they voted for in 2022. Prices are going up for every Kenyan whether they are Luos. Kalenjins, Kikuyus Kambas, or anybody else.

Azimio and Ruto can make a compromise and reduce the VAT increase from 8% to something like 4%. That is a win for everybody. Ruto saves his face by agreeing to 4% increase instead of 8%. Azimio can go to Kenyans and tell them at least they reduced that burden on the cost of living.

More importantly, all Kenyans will have less weight on their survival hopes with less VAT to pay. What can possibly be wrong with that other than just petty politics?

The other thing that has to be completely eliminated is the Housing Tax Levy. It is just total crap. The idea that Ruto is going to use the fund to employ 2 million Kenyan youth is just a filthy joke. Ruto can save himself by scrapping that Housing Levy because he will be in real trouble years from now when he can’t even provide 1,000 jobs for Kenyan in his imaginary construction boom from the Housing Fund. Ruto can get out now and lie to the youth that he couldn’t provide the jobs because Azimio killed the Housing Fund.

So let both parties be clear that the cost of living for Kenyans will be on the table because Kenyans have to be on that table when negotiations are going on between politicians. The other issue that must be on the table is the fact that more than 50 Kenyans have been killed by the Ruto regime and there has to be consequences for that and restitution to the families.

Already there are calls from both sides to get the ICC involved. That is perfect. Azimio should collect all the information and data they can get about the victims including affidavits, hospital records, witness statements and everything needed by ICC and file the cases at The Hague.

Ruto and his group are also claiming the Azimio demonstrators are killing people so they need to collect their evidence and provide that to the ICC. If both parties want the ICC involvement it will be good because ICC will come in and do their work.

The reality of the matter is that William Ruto is not going to want the ICC anywhere involved in the abuse and killing of Kenyans because that responsibility stops at his door. So the initial reaction from Ruto is going to be have no mention of ICC. It was kind of sad the other day when Ruto asked Raila and Azimio to apologize to Kenyans who Ruto has killed or injured. Ruto was telling Kenyans that okay, I killed a whole bunch of you but I did so because of Raila. Seriously? We have to get away from that mediocre thinking.

If there is to be a deal about avoiding the ICC then the Ruto government has to take full responsibility for the killings and the injuries and hold the police accountable and charge them in court and then offer a comprehensive compensation package to the victims without them having to go to court to fight for that which takes years and sometimes decades. Even after you win compensation cases against the Kenyan government it takes decades to get paid.

I won my case in 2014 and I have not been paid in full nine years later. Just this week we decided with my lawyer to write a letter to Chief Justice Martha Koome to address compensations for victims of state torture which are never paid. Now I have to deal with a guy called Omollo who is the new PS for the Ministry of Interior. It is a real pain in the ass.

What Azimio and Ruto can do is come up with a compensation package for those killed and injured during the demos against the Ruto government and have that payment done immediately. Those are the things you do to heal a country. Talk Talk Talk is not going to do that for you.

Real positive action is what will heal the nation. It has to be done for the sake of our country which we all love.

Talks between Raila and Ruto has to start with finding solutions to practical and immediate things and then you win the confidence of Kenyans by showing them you are serious and the rest of the work becomes easier.

There are many politicians who are in turmoil now because they were happy when Kenya was hurting and now they see a possibility to solve that and that makes those politicians irrelevant because they thrive when the country is in chaos. Raila and Ruto have to ignore those politicians.

Kenyans have to give both Ruto and Raila a thank-you vote for meeting by themselves and ignoring the noise makers to start the peace process. The way ahead is going to be tougher.

Those politicians angry about the peace talks are going to have their own “Pain Talks” everyday in TV stations and on Twitter. Ignore them. The other Twitter warriors like Mutahi Ngunyi and co are going to have their own “Pain Talks” on Twitter. Ignore them. Just address the issues that Kenyans want to be addressed and the country will be fine.

Chris Hani is there with Mandela.

Ruth First. Apartheid South Africa assassinated her in Mozambique.

The other issue Raila and Ruto have to avoid is the business of issuing conditions for their “Peace Talks”. If you are going to talk, why issue conditions instead of talking about those conditions when you meet. The reason we have these conditions being issued is for media and public consumption.

When Nelson Mandela met De Klerk to free South Africa from apartheid he never issued a single condition before the talks. He went for the talks because he knew Operation Vula by the armed wing of the ANC was on. Either that or talks De Clerk and Mandela knew.

In Kenya today we have dead bodies of our fellow citizens staring us in the face. That is why Ruto and Raila are going to have Peace Talks for the sake of the country.

Adongo Ogony is a Kenyan Human Rights Activist and  Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada

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