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‘My friend Raila,’ Ruto expresses willingness for talks with Baba

In a recent Twitter statement, President William Ruto announced his openness to one-on-one discussions with opposition chief Raila Odinga.

The statement was made on Tuesday, July 25, as he informed the public about his trip to Tanzania for a human capital meeting, during which he extended an olive branch to the leader of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance.

“My friend Raila Odinga, I am off to Tanzania for a human capital meeting to harmonize the expansion of employment opportunities in our continent,” said President Ruto.

He continued, “I will be back tomorrow evening, and as you have always known, I am available to meet one on one with you anytime at your convenience.”

Also read: Raila’s bodyguard lives to tell horror of three days in captivity

President Ruto’s gesture comes shortly after Raila accused the head-of-state of thwarting efforts to mediate a political truce between the Azimio la Umoja coalition and the ruling Kenya Kwanza.

Speaking to the International Press Association of East Africa on Tuesday, Odinga revealed that numerous eminent individuals, both locally and internationally, had attempted unsuccessfully to bring the two sides together and defuse the rising tensions between the government and the opposition.

This political impasse led to a standoff between Ruto and Odinga, with the latter spearheading weekly anti-government protests that resulted in fatalities, injuries, property damage, and significant economic impact.

Among those offering to mediate was Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu, who Raila claims were kept waiting for days after travelling to Nairobi two weeks prior for negotiations on a ceasefire.

“The President of Tanzania came here two weeks ago at the invitation of President Ruto to mediate, and she was kept waiting,” said Raila Odinga.

“She spent two nights here, and it was all in vain. Other people have tried, but he is the one who is resisting, so basically, he knows what he wants.”

However, President Ruto has previously emphasized that there would be no “handshake” between him and Raila.

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During the 9th session of the Joint Permanent Commission for Cooperatives in Kigali in April, he clarified that his willingness to dialogue with Raila was solely focused on resolving issues that had led to violence and chaotic anti-government protests orchestrated by the Azimio opposition coalition.

He further contextualized his notion of a no-handshake government, clarifying that his call for peace should not be misinterpreted as a reference to the previous handshake between former President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Azimio chief.

While Ruto’s sentiments were echoed by his deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, and other members of Kenya Kwanza, members of Azimio, including Raila, have dismissed reports suggesting that the former premier is seeking to be part of a coalition government.

In an interview with Nation Raila categorically stated that he doesn’t want ‘nusu mkate’ from Dr Ruto’s government because it is rotten.

“Ruto has not called me and neither have I called him. I want Kenyans to know that we are not after a handshake as Kenya Kwanza is insinuating. We have not and we will not ask for a handshake. Handshake ni porojo yao… ati watu wa Azimio wanatafuta handshake na nusu mkate. Hatutaki mkate yao ambayo imeoza,” Raila stated.

Also read: Activist who asked Raila to import firearms and invade State House charged