Azimio calls off protests as Kenya Kwanza drops Keynan from talks

MP Adan Keynan, Majority leader Kimani Ichungwa, Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwale and Senator Esther Okenyuri address the media at Parliament buildings,Nairobi on May 3, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya has called off anti-government protests scheduled for today.

This is after President Willian Ruto's Kenya Kwanza Alliance yesterday seized the olive branch extended by the opposition to call off the protests and go back to the bipartisan talks.

In what looked like synchronized moves, Azimio co-principal and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka announced that they were prepared to stand down the demos scheduled for today on condition that Kenya Kwanza drops Eldas MP Adan Keynan from the bipartisan committee and his replacement immediately announced.

“We, in Azimio la Umoja One Kenya announce, on a without prejudice basis, that we are prepared to go back to the bipartisan talks with our opposite side in Kenya Kwanza and are prepared to stand down the demonstration scheduled for tomorrow Thursday, 4th May 2023, provided that Kenya Kwanza recuses Keynan from the bipartisan committee,” he said.

The Wiper leader said this was the same offer he made on Sunday at the Cathedral of Praise Ministries International but stressed that all the conditions remain the same.

"We made an offer last Sunday to Kenya Kwanza as the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leadership on bipartisan talks. All our other conditions remain the same," he said.

Less than an hour later, Kenya Kwanza through National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichungwa welcomed the statement by Azimio on the resumption of the bipartisan talks.

"We appreciate the conciliatory tone taken by our Azimio la Umoja counterparts to engage in talks and stand down the planned street demonstration should Kenya Kwanza recuse Eldas Member MP Adan keynan," he said.

Ichung'wah's statement said that President Ruto's coalition had always been willing to bend backwards for the sake of the progress of the country national and stability for the nation.

"We have consulted with Keynan and the coalition's top leadership and he (Keynan) has gracefully agreed in the greater interest of the country to recuse himself to the committee," said Ichung'wah.

The Majority Leader announced that Saku MP Dido Rasso had been picked to replace Keynan in the bipartisan committee.

Sources confirmed to The Standard that there were high level talks between the two rival coalitions before the choreographed offer of standing down the demonstrations and the acceptance.

"Of course there has been talks at the higher level, that led to the climb down. As Azimio leades we welcome it," said an MP who is involved the in the bipartisan talks but sought anonymity as he is not authorised to speak on the media.

Yesterday's, development offers a reprieve to businesses across the country especially in Nairobi and Kisumu who have borne the brunt of the protests.

On Monday, the Azimio supporters, egged by their leaders returned to the streets after a three weeks lull that had been preceded by a biweekly demonstrations on Monday and Thursday.

A month ago, Azimio said the bipartisan team should recommend measures to reduce the cost of living, conduct a forensic analysis of the IEBC servers, review the process of appointing and dismissing IEBC commissioners and recommend policies to strengthen the electoral system to guarantee free and fair elections.