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Kenya Kwanza and Azimio to lock horns as proper talks set to begin

   Kenya Kwanza and Azimio bipartisan talks camps. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Bomas talks have moved into a phase where Kenya Kwanza and Azimio camps are set to put their best foot forward to defend their positions on various key issues.

On Monday, the two sides showed divergent opinions on several issues, including the proposed offices of the Official Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Cabinet Secretary.

The bone of contention was whether the offices should be established in a parliamentary or presidential system of government.

Kenya’s Constitution has been described by experts as a presidential one and not parliamentary.

According to proposals put together by the National Dialogue technical committee seen by The Standard, Azimio is supporting the creation of the Office of the Prime Minister and two deputies within a parliamentary system of government while Kenya Kwanza wants the Office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary cemented in the constitution.

The proposals also reveal that Kenya Kwanza is pushing for Azimio to support the establishment of the office of Leader of Official Opposition to operate from outside Parliament while Azimio wants it within Parliament where the holder has a seat in the august house.

On Electoral Justice and Related Matters where restructuring and reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is a key issue, Kenya Kwanza maintains the issue is limited to filling the vacancies available in the offices of the chairperson and members of IEBC. 

Azimio’s position on the other hand is that there should be an overall review of the framework that governs the electoral process, including the constitutional, legal, policy and administrative arrangements, preparations of elections, holding of elections, declaration of results, dispute resolution, election offences, observation, monitoring and evaluation of results.

There is a need to make IEBC functional in accordance with the constitution, including filling of vacancies in the offices of the chairperson and commissioners with the two teams diverging in thought on whether there should be an overall review of the framework that governs the electoral process.

Kenya Kwanza maintains that the delimitation of boundaries is a constitutional function of IEBC and that the role should be left to the reconstituted team.

Azimio insists that IEBC should not have the elections and boundaries delimitation functions because it will have pressing timelines and a full in-tray coupled with the fact that there shall be new commissioners that lack institutional memory.

“The boundaries delimitation function should be taken to a new constitutional body and the 27 constituencies that did not meet the threshold in 2010 should not be lost in the forthcoming delimitation of boundaries,” says Azimio in the report of the technical committee. 

The opposition wants the forthcoming delimitation of boundaries to accommodate the one-man-one vote-one shilling principle, with the forthcoming exercise addressing past gerrymandering of constituencies and historical injustices that resulted from the same.

Azimio is recommending a Constitutional Commission to address County Boundaries at a time a some MPs led by Kuria East MP Marwa Kitayama are pushing for increasing counties from 47 to 58. That proposal has been turned into a Bill that has already been tabled in the National Assembly.

On the issue of auditing of the 2022 presidential election, Kenya Kwanza argues that the election is done and dusted, given the scrutiny and judgment of the Supreme Court of Kenya. Azimio on its part says that there is need for an independent forensic audit of the 2022 presidential election.

“There is a need for a public inquiry into the attempts by state functionaries to interfere with the declaration of the 2022 presidential election results in which President William Ruto was declared winner by former IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati,” Kenya Kwanza argues in the report of the technical committee. 

Azimio on its part says there is a need for a public inquiry into differing positions taken by IEBC commissioners.

In the report, Kenya Kwanza Alliance says it has comprehensive measures to address the high cost of living and other Article 43-related issues and that it welcomes proposals from Azimio on how to lower the high cost of living.

Azimio says it shall table a paper on lowering the cost of living and other Article 43 issues and expects the proposals to be considered in good faith. Azimio still insists that the Finance Act 2023 should be repealed so that the two coalitions can agree on how to save Kenyans from the high cost of living and overtaxation.

On implementation of the two-thirds gender rule, Kenya Kwanza argues the president’s memorandum to Parliament outlines the administration’s position on the issue.

The government side expects Azimio to adopt a bi-partisan approach to this issue and that the Committee should address it in collaboration with the Ministerial Task Force gazetted by Gender Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa.

While Azimio has no objection to the implementation of the two-thirds gender rule it says it shall table a proposal for consideration by the committee addressing the issue in collaboration with the Ministerial Task Force gazetted by Jumwa.

On Governance issues and promotion of national unity and inclusivity in national appointment Kenya Kwanza believes that it has abided by the necessary constitutional provisions and welcomes proposals from Azimio on how to improve compliance.

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