National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang'ula at Chebukaka Girls Secondary School in Kabuchai Constituency, Bungoma County,  on April 22, 2023. He has called on Azimio and Kenya Kwanza to resume bipartisan talks. [Juliet Omelo, Standard]

National Assembly speaker Moses Wetang'ula has called the Azimio coalition and Kenya Kwanza parliamentary leadership to resume and conclude the bipartisan talks for the sake of the country.

Wetang'ula was concerned that the delay in the conclusion of the talks had the ripple effect of delaying the constitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) with the country teetering on the verge of a constitutional crisis.

In his communication to the House on Wednesday, the speaker called on the House leadership to formalize the bipartisan talks committee to address critical national matters in accordance with the Standing Orders of both Houses.

He reiterated that he and his Senate counterpart Amason Kingi are committed to facilitating the work of the committee as it undertakes this significant task.

The committee is co-chaired by Tharaka MP George Murugara, from the majority party, and Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo, from the minority party.

The talks hit a deadlock after Azimio pulled out citing a lack of seriousness by their Kenya Kwanza counterparts in addressing matters of concern.

“Upon the joint resolution by the houses, we shall authorize the respective clerks of the houses to provide the committee with a secretariat and any necessary logistical support, similar to every other committee of Parliament, to ensure the effective discharge of its mandate,” said Wetang'ula.

He added: “We are aware that there is an ongoing debate regarding whether the committee should also consider conducting bipartisan engagements outside of parliamentary processes. This is a matter that the committee may explore and seek ways to incorporate into the joint resolution of the houses.”

Azimio's bipartisan talks team, led by co-chair Otiende Amollo (centre), during a media briefing at Bomas of Kenya on May 23, 2023. [Jenipher Wachie,Standard]

In the spirit of bipartisanship, the Speaker encouraged the committee members to prioritize the interests of the nation, above any other considerations, when addressing the presented matters.

He acknowledged the dedication of the co-chairs and their respective teams in fulfilling the task entrusted to them.

Majority leader Kimani Ichungwa backed the call by Wetang'ula for the resumption of the talks and called on his minority counterpart Opiyo Wandayi to collaborate with them and share any draft motion they may have so that the committee can consider and develop a synchronized draft motion for approval in the House.

Ichungwa further highlighted the plight of constituents, such as those in Banisa Constituency, who are suffering without representation and stressed the urgency to expedite the talks to prevent a constitutional crisis due to the absence of an electoral commission.

Wandayi lamented at the prolonged duration of the talks noting that Kenyans had grown fatigued of the same. He however stressed the need to act swiftly and act in good faith to conclude the talks.

Wetang'ula consequently put the two leaders to task asking them to see the bipartisan talks through and not let the matter make it to the floor of the House again.

“It beats logic that co-chairs who sit next to each other in meetings chose to instead engage in prolonged letter exchanges. They should fulfill their responsibility and discharge their duties effectively,” noted the speaker.