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Ruto Declines SA’s Ramaphosa Mediation Offer, Odinga Reveals

Ruto Declines SA’s Ramaphosa Mediation Offer, Odinga Reveals
President Ruto with his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa at State House, Nairobi in November 2022. Photo Courtesy: Nesh Maina

A day after Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga narrated the futile attempts by the Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu to iron out differences between him and President William Ruto, Odinga claims that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed interest in mediating the dispute but was turned down by the Kenyan leader.

“President Ramaphosa wants to come but President Ruto has refused,” Odinga told the AFP

He emphasized the importance of having an intermediary in the dialogue process, “even if it is a former President”.

Raila expressed concerns about President Ruto’s commitment to meaningful dialogue, citing a lack of consistency in his statements and actions.

“I think he is basically joking; he is not serious about the dialogue. If he wants to talk, I am ready for serious dialogue,’’ Odinga told AFP’s Hillary Orinde on Wednesday.

He further stressed that trust is crucial in any mediation efforts, and he believes that an impartial mediator can help bridge the divide and foster discussions.

“Ruto is not somebody you can trust, he keeps changing words that is why I insist there must be a mediator between us,’’ Odinga told the AFP in Nairobi.

This is the first revelation of the efforts made by various stakeholders and diplomats to resolve the frosty relationship between Ruto and Odinga.

On Tuesday evening before departing for Tanzania, President Ruto said he is ready to meet opposition leader Raila Odinga “any time” after months of anti-government protests that have sparked international alarm and calls for dialogue.

“As you have always known, am available to meet one on one with you anytime at your convenience,” Ruto said in a tweet addressing Raila.

In 2008, the Kenyan government rejected the choice of Cyril Ramaphosa, then a South African politician cum businessman, as a chief mediator for negotiations between Kibaki and Odinga.

Ramaphosa who had been selected by the former United Nations secretary-general Koffi Annan, had arrived in Nairobi but left abruptly after the Kibaki-led government expressed reservations about his selection for the role.

They accused him of having close ties with members of the opposition party Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), which is led by Raila Odinga.

During the time of Ramaphosa’s rejection, President William Ruto was then a die-hard supporter of Raila Odinga.

Critics accuse Ruto of initiating punitive taxes as the country buckles under spiraling inflation.

He has also been accused of not keeping the promises he made during the August 2022 election campaign, when he declared himself the champion of the poor ‘hustlers’, and pledged to improve their economic situation.

On Wednesday, Odinga led a solidarity parade for victims of last week’s protests over the high cost of living.

While the opposition coalition claims 50 people were killed by police during the three-day protests, the interior ministry has remained mum on civilian deaths.

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