Kenya's government and opposition pledged over the weekend to hold talks to resolve their differences after a series of protests against price hikes and tax increases disrupted economic activity countrywide.
Two of Kenya's leading industry associations - the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance - estimate that the country lost $20 million a day during the protests this month, as businesses closed for fear of looting.
In separate statements issued on Saturday, the leadership of President William Ruto's Kenya Kwanza coalition and opposition leader Raila Odinga’s Azimio coalition said they had agreed to allow dialogue to resolve their differences.
They said former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo would be the mediator in their negotiations.
Each side will pick five people. However, the two sides have expressed disagreements on an agenda for the talks.
The opposition wants to include the high cost of living and the police brutality used to disperse the demonstrators as part of the agenda but the government has a different wish list excluding the two contentious issues.
Political analysts, religious leaders, and civil society organizations are urging both the government and the opposition to drop their confrontational stances and start a dialogue to resolve the problems that have sparked the protests.
Ruto and Odinga met on Friday with Obasanjo as the mediator to establish a framework for their party’s negotiations, a senior member of the Azimio alliance said on Sunday.
Odinga had declared last Wednesday that he would not speak with Ruto unless a third-party mediator was present.
"He is not somebody you can trust... there must be a mediator between us," the seasoned opposition leader said.
The president had earlier posted on the X social media platform that he was ready to meet Odinga, saying "am available to meet one on one with you anytime at your convenience."
Obasanjo has been involved in a several international mediation efforts throughout Africa, including more recently in Ethiopia, where he helped broker a peace agreement last year between the Tigray forces, who fought a two-year war against Ethiopia's Federal government.
(Editing by Brinda Darasha; firstname.lastname@example.org)