National dialogue, unity talks scheduled for February
The national dialogue facilitated by diplomats, clerics, business and trade union leaders could be held in February next year.
A multi-sectoral forum with membership drawn from different circles will be constituted in January 2018 to convene the national conversation, which will take six months, to end political divisions brought about by the long electioneering period.
Leaders from the religious and business sectors are part of the steering committee on the national conversation.
In a statement on Wednesday, The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) chairman Lee Karuri and Bishop Alfred Rotich of the Catholic Military Ordinariate want leaders from the political divide to be involved in the talks.
The two said the initiative has the support of international partners.
“As Kenyans of goodwill seeking the best for our country, we call on everyone with a stake in its future, and especially on Kenya’s political leaders, to support and engage with the national conversation,” they said.
Among the key agendas the drivers of the talks want are those centred on achieving Kenya’s economic blueprint, the Vision 2030.
“The issues will be presented by various sectors and compiled for discussion by the multi-sectoral forum,” stated Mr Karuri and Bishop Rotich in the joint statement.
On Jamhuri Day, President Kenyatta reached out to National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga saying he was ready for dialogue but only around the pursuit of economic liberation.
But Mr Odinga has said he does not recognise Mr Kenyatta’s presidency and has vowed to proceed with plans to be sworn in as the people’s president.
He is however increasingly coming under pressure from diplomats and religious leaders to drop that decision to give room for talks to heal the political rift in the country.
“The 2017 election once again exacerbated deep-seated divisions in Kenya. Representatives of business and religious communities, with the support of likeminded diplomats, propose that Kenya engages in a national conversation to ensure these issues don’t keep coming up every election year,” said Mr Karuri and Bishop Rotich.