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Ruto, Raila teams close ranks ahead of bi-partisan talks

Allies of President Ruto and former PM Raila Odinga are gearing up for the planned bi-partisan talks

A collage of President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga

Azimio la Umoja leadership has convened a meeting in Machakos on Thursday, April 6 to discuss President William Ruto’s proposal for bi-partisan talks on the recruitment of the Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission.

The Kenya Kwanza team is also expected to retreat and debate the planned engagement with the opposition.

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wa discredited reports that President Ruto and Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga spoke privately ahead of their decision to engage and resolve the current standoff between the government and the opposition.

Ichung’wa, who met with President Ruto on Monday, April 3 for a briefing on the planned bi-partisan engagements in Parliament, said that the opposition should not expect a handshake as an outcome.

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"I can confirm that Ruto has not met with Raila Odinga. He has not even spoken with Raila, leave alone the handshake. There is nothing touching on a handshake, the bi-partisan approach looks at the interest of the country.

I may have my own Kenya Kwanza interests, Azimio may have their own interests that may not be the interests of the Kenyan people. We are looking at a bipartisan approach that will carry the interest of the nation,” he said.

During the meeting between President Ruto and the Parliamentary leadership of both Houses, the head of state directed them to consider the proposal for a bipartisan approach to addressing the matters raised by the Opposition as a priority.

"We are convinced the issues shall be conclusively handled by Parliament to allow us to focus on our economic transformation programme," he said.

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Hosted leaders of Parliament led by National Assembly Leader of Majority Kimani Ichung’wa and his Senate counterpart Aaron Cheruiyot to establish a framework for the bipartisan strategy,” President Ruto added.

Both sides of the political divide have reiterated that the ceasefire is not symbolic of a handshake with President Ruto affirming his belief that Azimio leaders should play their role as the official opposition.

In a statement, Senator Cheruiyot moved to assure Kenya Kwanza supporters that the engagement between the government and the opposition was above board.

“I understand the apprehension and corkiness of Kenya Kwanza supporters. They know quite well what happens to an administration when it goes down that road.

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“However, we ask you to please trust us. As your Parliamentary leadership, we know what's Haram and a no-go zone for us,” he said.

Odinga has been agitating for the re-constitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, adding that President Ruto’s administration should prioritize electoral reforms.

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