Dialogue team briefed on its role ahead of Ruto, Raila talks

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung'wah. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

A meeting of the joint Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya and Kenya Kwanza Alliance technical committee has been pushed to tomorrow.

The technical team, which is expected to issue a harmonised agenda to the dialogue committee ahead of its meeting also planned for tomorrow, was scheduled to meet on Friday and subsequently yesterday, but both meetings were put off.

Both sides of the technical committee held individual meetings over the weekend and were briefed on their mandate in the ongoing talks between President William Ruto and Raila Odinga ahead of tomorrow’s meeting that a source said would start at 9.30 am.

Azimio’s side, which comprises Jubilee Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni, Adams Oloo, Zein Abubakar, and Lynn Ngugi, will hold its final meeting today. They have met since Friday evening.

Kenya Kwanza’s representatives to the technical committee, lawyers  Muthomi Thiankolu, Linda Musumba, Nick Biketi, and Duncan Ojwang’, were briefed Friday and were scheduled to meet again yesterday, a meeting that did not take place.

Former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah, who jointly chair the larger dialogue team, set tomorrow’s deadline for the technical team to conclude its work on the agenda.

In a statement, Azimio yesterday disowned Isabel Githinji as a member of their technical committee, replacing her with Ngugi. Githinji was listed in a previous statement issued by the opposition coalition.

Azimio and Kenya Kwanza are divided on the issues to be discussed except the reconstitution of the electoral commission and have stuck to their hard stances, issuing separate agenda for the talks. The divergence prompted the formation of the eight-member committee. 

Azimio wants the talks to focus on the cost of living, an audit of last year’s elections, inclusivity in national affairs, and respect for political parties.

Kenya Kwanza has insisted that the agenda was already agreed upon when Ruto and Raila met in the company of former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Their agenda items include the implementation of the two-thirds gender rule, the entrenchment of the constituency development fund in the constitution, the establishment of the office of the leader of the opposition, and the embedment of the office of the prime cabinet secretary. 

The technical committee will also guide the technical committee throughout the dialogue that Azimio wants to be concluded in a month.

“This team will play a pivotal role in supporting our delegation throughout the ongoing dialogue engagement. Their expertise will be of high value in shaping the conversation,” Ichungwah said as he appointed his team Friday.

“The four will work with the Azimio delegation to provide insights, skills, guidance, and expertise necessary for a speedy resolution of the objectives of the dialogue,” Kalonzo said in a statement issued Thursday.

Azimio’s team also comprises National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi, Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni, Malindi MP Amina Mnyazi, and former Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa.

Kenya Kwanza’s side comprises Embu Governor Celily Mbarire, Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, Bungoma Women Representative Catherine Wambilianga and East Africa Legislative Assembly MP Hassan Omar.

Both sides are under pressure, locally and internationally, to resolve their differences.