Kenyan President William Ruto reiterated his call for a “handshake” agreement with the country’s opposition led by Mr Raila Odinga, dismissing speculation that a coalition agreement with those who voted against him in the previous election was in the works.
President Ruto said Tuesday at a joint press conference with his Rwandan host, Paul Kagame, that he was providing an environment for the opposition to check his government “without throwing stones.”
“As president, I owe it to the people of Kenya to provide leadership,” he said in Kigali, in response to a journalist’s question about whether he and Mr Odinga will shake hands.
“I’d like to inform you that there will be no handshake. However, there will be a debate in parliament on the issues that have been raised.”
After two weeks of tense protests led by the opposition, his Kenya Kwanza party and the opposition Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance led by Mr Odinga agreed this week to settle their political differences through a parliamentary process.
Demonstrations should be reconsidered.
As the protests became more violent, the move was hailed as saving the country from chaos.”The protests and demonstrations had taken an ugly and violent turn…”It was time for them to reconsider their protests,” Dr Ruto said.
Kenyans were protesting the high cost of living, among other things. At the same time, opposition leaders demanded that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s servers be opened to determine who truly won the last presidential election and that the appointment of new electoral commissioners is halted.
Since then, the two parties have agreed to form special parliamentary teams to address election-related issues.
Handshake in Kenya refers to a loose coalition agreement between the government and the opposition. Mr Odinga had such an arrangement with Dr Ruto’s predecessor, Uhuru Kenyatta, which Ruto, who was deputy president at the time, claims hampered development.
“We are a democracy, and a democracy is based on a system of checks and balances, with a government and an opposition,” he explained.
“The Kenyan people do not want a system that undermines democracy.” “I am a firm believer in a system of checks and balances.”
Dr Ruto is in Kigali for a two-day visit at President Kagame’s invitation. The two leaders are discussing a variety of issues, including regional trade and security.