The opposition coalition Nasa has declared it will only hold talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta on issues at the root of political and electoral tensions in the country.
National Coordination Committee chairman Johnson Muthama and ODM national chairman John Mbadi described the President’s conditional invitation for talks during Tuesday’s 54th Jamhuri Day celebrations at Kasarani as “simple semantics made out of insincerity”.
They spoke as Nasa leaders Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula met to discuss their take on the conditional window of talks.
Sources said the leaders were dissatisfied with the President’s position, especially after they postponed their planned swearing in of Mr Odinga on Jamhuri Day to give dialogue a chance.
Speaking to Nation Wednesday, Mr Muthama, Mr Mbadi and the party’s political affairs director Opiyo Wandayi said talks must centre on the political issues that affect millions of Kenyans.
“Dialogue must be on the outstanding political issues,” said Mr Muthama.
“There cannot be development if a government lacks popular support of the people.”
Nasa has argued that it will only engage the Jubilee government in talks on electoral reforms, a change in the system of governance, devolution, as well as on reforming the Judiciary and the police.
But President Kenyatta has always maintained that, while his administration is open to any suggestions on development from both sides of the political divide, it will not engage in political dialogue with the opposition.
Speaking at City Hall on Monday during the launch of Nairobi County’s new data centre, the President asked the opposition to forward to him any ideas on transforming the lives of Kenyans, saying “we cannot dialogue to continue politicking”.
And on Tuesday, speaking at Kasarani Stadium, the head of State said he was ready for dialogue with the opposition, but only around the pursuit of economic liberation.
He pledged to bring harmony between communities, deepen unity, and foster national cohesion in his second term.
“As I have stated before, as President of all Kenyans, I am willing and commit to engage all Kenyans, and all Kenyan leaders, including my worthy competitors, irrespective or their religious or ethnic affiliation, in fashioning this paradigm shift,” President Kenyatta said.
Earlier, on Saturday, Mr Kenyatta, in remarks aimed at the opposition, overruled talks on electoral injustices as proposed by Nasa, and instead advised the Odinga-led coalition to wait and dialogue with his deputy William Ruto in 2022.
ANC secretary-general Barrack Muluka Wednesday said the remakes by Mr Kenyatta “should be taken with a pinch of salt”, adding: “It is naïve for a President who is a politician to say that people will not talk about politics.”
Mr Mbadi claimed that the Jubilee administration had presided over ills in the country which must be the foundation of the dialogue called by the President.
“It is evidently clear that people are angry because of the mismanagement of the political affairs of the country,” he said.
Nasa, which had vowed to swear in both Mr Odinga and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka as the people’s president and deputy president, respectively, during the Jamhuri fete, postponed the event in the last minute.
Jubilee leaders have in the past accused Nasa of plotting to share power through a coalition, but the opposition has termed the assertions as false.