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What Joe Biden’s envoy told Raila, Gachagua

ruto biden photo 1
File image of President William Ruto and US President Joe Biden

The political situation in Kenya remains tense, as the leader of the opposition, Raila Odinga, and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua both maintain their hardline stances in talks with a United States delegation seeking a truce.

Mr Gachagua has flatly rejected any overtures to join the government, instead demanding that Mr Odinga stop protests and agree to discuss his permanent retirement from politics.

In contrast, Mr Odinga’s camp has four key, non-negotiable demands, including a reduction in the high cost of living, the opening of last year’s presidential election servers for audit, stopping the unilateral reconstitution of the electoral commission, and respecting multi-party democracy to allow all parties to flourish without the government enticing opposition legislators to its side.

While Mr Odinga’s team is willing to discuss the details of how these four key issues will be resolved, they are unwilling to take any of them off the table in case of talks.


Mr Gachagua has ruled out any deal in the form of the 2018 ‘Handshake’ that Mr Odinga had with former President Uhuru Kenyatta, in which the former prime minister secured government posts for his allies.

The US officials, led by Delaware Senator Chris Coons, who was credited for playing a part in the Odinga-Kenyatta 2018 Handshake, and US Ambassador Meg Whitman, met Mr Gachagua on Wednesday morning before meeting Mr Odinga in the evening.


They were scheduled to meet Mr Kenyatta and President William Ruto, who arrived back in the country early yesterday. It is unclear whether these meetings happened or are still scheduled to happen.

In the meeting with the US delegation, Mr Odinga warned US President Joe Biden’s government against any efforts to back what he termed as the emergence of a “fascist state” in the country.


A fascist state refers to a regime that stands for a centralised autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

The Azimio team pressed for more robust engagement by Western embassies, especially the United States, to press the government to respect the rights of Kenyans and to respond to the emerging fascist state in Kenya.

Mr Odinga expressed his concerns about the Western nations’ “silence over the government’s crackdown on peaceful demonstrations, their silence on the invasion of private property with the complicity of the State, especially the Northlands property of the former Head of State and his (Mr Odinga’s) Spectre International Ltd.”

Mr Gachagua, speaking in Mombasa yesterday, maintained his hardline stance, insisting that he had told Mr Coons’s delegation and the Catholic Church that a Handshake was not on the table. “We have told our international partners and church leaders that we are willing to sit down with Raila Odinga, but not to discuss his forcible entry into government.

We cannot violate the Constitution; it has no provision to facilitate Raila Odinga to enter into government through the backdoor,” said Mr Gachagua.

“The only way to get into government is through the ballot. Raila has gotten away too many times through such threats. Unfortunately for Raila, President Ruto and I do not buy fear. Come to the table where we will only discuss one thing — your retirement and permanent exit from politics.”

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