Envoys from Western countries, business and religious leaders Friday met National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader Raila Odinga in last-ditch efforts to stave off the political stand-off sparked by his decision to be sworn in as president on Jamhuri Day next week.
Led by the US ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec, the envoys who included German Ambassador Jutta Frasch and British High Commissioner Nic Hailey, told the Nasa leaders that the international community is ready to help resolve outstanding issues.
“We urged government, opposition and all Kenyans to engage in open, transparent national conversation to address underlying issues and strengthen institutions to help Kenya. We stressed the need to uphold Constitution,” Mr Godec said on his Twitter handle.
Mr Odinga’s personal secretary Dennis Onyango said in a statement Nasa leaders expressed a commitment and openness to dialogue on specific areas of security reforms, securing and strengthening the Judiciary, devolution and governance.
“The meeting also reviewed activities planned for December 12 and agreed on the need to act strictly in accordance with the Constitution,” the statement said.
The Nasa leaders met the envoys even as Mr Odinga’s team unveiled the programme for Tuesday’s events and the road map for what will happen thereafter.
Officials of the committee organising the Tuesday meeting of the Opposition under the banner of the People’s Assembly will also unveil the ultimate objective of Nasa: fresh elections by June 2018 or secession.
However, they kept the country guessing on where the event will be held and whether Mr Odinga would be sworn-in and what would follow.
Asked about this at a press conference at their offices in Lavington, Nairobi, two officials, Oduor Ong’wen and Koitamet ole Kina were evasive.
Mr Ong’wen said: “We have said that we are going to inaugurate the leadership.”
He avoided using the words “swearing in”.
As they spoke, calls for Mr Odinga to call off his Tuesday meeting increased with trade unions boss Francis Atwoli warning that such a move would increase political uncertainty and ruin the economy.
Said Mr Atwoli: “We may not have a country beyond December 12 if the swearing goes on. The way forward is dialogue between the two leaders. The moment you journalists write about Uhuru meeting Raila, I am telling you the Kenyan shilling will appreciate.”
Mr Atwoli noted that at least 100,000 jobs have been lost since August as investors shun Kenya.
On Thursday, Attorney-General Githu Muigai warned that any attempt to swear in Mr Odinga would amount to treason.
In Nakuru, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi said that while he does not recognise the Jubilee government, his party would pursue repeat elections and electoral reforms. He also said the party was ready for dialogue.
Meanwhile, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri has said the opposition leader Raila Odinga should be put under house arrest if he continues with for his swearing in ceremony plans.
Additional reporting by Irene Mugo