Ruto-Raila truce: Eyes on the dialogue and potential outcome

  • 7 Apr 2023
  • 3 Mins Read
  • 〜 by James Ngunjiri

On Sunday evening, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party leader Raila Odinga suspended the bi-weekly countrywide protests over soaring costs of living and the alleged rigging of the August 2022 General Election, to allow for dialogue with the government.

The move came after President William Ruto on Sunday afternoon in a televised address urged Mr. Odinga to halt demonstrations which he said had led to deaths, injuries, and destruction of properties.

The President said his take on the issue was not about who is right or who is wrong. “…courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; it is also what it takes to sit down and listen,” he said.

The Azimio leader accepted the President’s invitation for dialogue but warned that the protests could resume within a week should the talks fail.

However, two days later, the Azimio leadership claimed that the President’s statement fell short of what had been agreed upon by their team of negotiators. Instead, Mr. Odinga called for a process similar to the National Accord of 2008.

Mr. Odinga said Azimio wants the government to first and foremost address the high cost of living (inflated food, fuel, and electricity prices). “Our suggestion is to have a conversation at the national level through a process akin to the 2008 National Accord. To this end, the coalition proposes a team drawn from its ranks both in Parliament and outside Bunge,” said Mr. Odinga.

The statement signalled a hardening of positions, as President Ruto on the other hand insisted that the talks would only take place through a parliamentary framework.

On Sunday, the President suggested a bi-partisan engagement in Parliament for the reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) but did not touch on how his government intends to address the high cost of living.

The National Accord and Reconciliation Act of 2008 was an act of the National Assembly of Kenya that temporarily re-established the offices of Prime Minister, along with the creation of two deputy prime ministers.  

What happens next?

The success would depend on factors such as the willingness of both parties to engage in constructive dialogue and compromises, trust, mutual respect, clear goals and objectives, and stakeholders’ support.

Already, some analysts have started calling for the expansion of the framework of the proposed bi-partisan engagements as others praise the truce.

Political analysts Herman Manyora while speaking on K24 TV on Tuesday evening said there are a lot of issues that led to the mass protests therefore there is a need for expansion of the bi-partisan dialogue in order to cover the multitude of issues being experienced.

“What Raila is seeming to suggest is there’s little we can do in Parliament. What we need is to sit down as Kenyans and look at the challenges facing this country and indeed there are many challenges,” said Mr. Manyora. “We need to have a forum in which we sit down. Parliament is too small, that bi-partisan must be expanded to be multi-partisan.”

On the other hand, political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi lauded President Ruto for softening his stance towards the Azimio leader and agreeing to some of his demands, Mr. Ngunyi termed it an act of statesmanship.

“Bravo President William Ruto. What you did today by climbing down was statesmanship. Babaman responded by climbing down too. Whatever you do hereafter, keep Gachagua out of it. And I believe Uhuru Kenyatta brokered this deal,” said Mr. Ngunyi in a Tweet.


In the coming days, dialogue is expected to commence between the government and the opposition to address Azimio’s demands.

Equally, a bi-partisan committee backed by experts may be formed to select IEBC commissioners. The composition of the IEBC has been one of the demands made by the Azimio leadership. And if an agreement is reached, demonstrations will be called off completely. However, if there will be an impasse, Mr. Odinga has said the protests will resume.