Kenya’s main opposition agreed to suspend protests planned for this week and said it would enter talks with the government over its demands for electoral reform and steps to reduce the cost of living.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga made the concession on Sunday, hours after President William Ruto called for an end to the protests that he said have left three people dead and hundreds of others injured. Ruto also called for talks in parliament to discuss the opposition’s grievances about the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission.
“We acknowledge Mr. Ruto’s olive branch for a dialogue on the key issues raised by Azimio La Umoja,” Odinga said, referring to the opposition coalition he leads. “We agree that a balanced parliamentary process co-chaired by both sides and backed by experts is an appropriate way to proceed.”
Odinga, who failed to overturn last year’s presidential election result in the Supreme Court after he narrowly lost to Ruto, has called for protests every Monday and Thursday to press the government to agree to an audit of the outcome to try to prove he won. The demonstrations were also aimed at ensuring the establishment of a new panel to oversee future elections is conducted fairly, and pressing the government to do more to lower living costs.
The opposition protests in the capital, Nairobi, and other parts of the east African nation have injured more than 400 people, including at least 60 security officers, Ruto said in a statement broadcast on state television earlier on Sunday. They’ve also led to widespread violence, looting and invasions of private property, and dented the nation’s image, he said.
Odinga said a parliamentary committee to discuss its grievances should be formed with immediate effect, with strict deadlines for resolving the issues raised by the opposition.
“We reserve our right to call for demonstrations should this process not bear fruit,” he said.
Source: Times Live