Kenya: National Dialogue Committee delivers long-awaited report

On Saturday 25 August, the National Dialogue Committee issued a long-awaited report. These bipartisan talks between President William Ruto's camp and opposition leader Raila Odinga's camp. The committee was set up in August after several weeks of anti-government protests. For the past three months, representatives of the two sides have been negotiating. And right up to the last moment. The presentation of the report was postponed several times on Saturday, before taking place in the evening.

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga (left) and President William Ruto (right). AFP - SIMON MAINA

By: RFI Follow


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With our correspondent in Nairobi, Albane Thirouard

Several recommendations are proposed by the National Dialogue Committee. A 50% reduction in the government's travel budgets, a 30% reduction in their travel allowances, the creation of the position of Leader of the Opposition and Prime Minister. Or several reforms around the electoral process.

Negotiations were not easy and concessions had to be made, the committee said. At the heart of the disputes: the rising cost of living. Kenya is facing a severe economic crisis. Fuel and food prices have skyrocketed as the shilling plummets against the dollar. The government advocates a need for austerity. The opposition accuses him of overcharging Kenyans. In particular through the highly contested 2023 finance law and its many new taxes.

The committee acknowledges that it has not been able to reach agreement on a number of points. Raila Odinga's coalition wants a reduction in VAT on fuel from 16% to 8% as well as the cancellation of a tax levied on wages to finance a housing fund. Many critics are already deploring the lack of consensus on these issues, and believe that the issue of the cost of living is not sufficiently taken into account.


The positive aspect of this national dialogue is that it has put an end to the protests, which, if they continue, could have disastrous consequences for the economy, said Martin Andati, a political analyst. But, the issue of the cost of living remains an issue. Kenya Kwanza, President Ruto's coalition, did not want this issue to be on the agenda, but it was finally included."

« It is important to understand that the new measures that are a source of controversy - the increase in VAT on fuel to 16% and the introduction of a tax levied on wages to finance a housing fund - have already been put in place. The IMF and the World Bank have been pressuring the government to have such policies, so the authorities fear that reversing course could threaten the financial loans they have been given. The government cannot afford to take this risk and therefore cancel either the increase in VAT on fuel or the introduction of the tax for a housing fund. »

While the government cannot back down on these measures, the analyst explains, the Azimio la Umoja camp, led by opposition leader Raila Odinga, must "keep the issue of the cost of living in the discussions" because "they know that if they abandon it, they will lose the support of many Kenyans." These discussions have been "driven by the selfish interests of each political camp," Andati said, and as a result, "some points are being neglected."

The report must now be handed over to William Ruto and Raila Odinga for validation, before being discussed in Parliament. The Kenyan president has already announced at Mass on Sunday that the proposed recommendations are "practical and good for the country".

Read alsoKenya: William Ruto and Raila Odinga to settle their differences "amicably"

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