Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o has emphasised the need to maintain the intent of the bipartisan talks between Kenya Kwanza and Azimio la Umoja One Kenya.
Speaking in Kisumu Thursday, Prof Nyong'o, who declared support for the talks, acknowledged the challenges faced by the committee, especially on discussions about the reconstitution of the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
He regretted that some residents paid the ultimate price during the protests due to police excesses and emphasized the importance of the talks in resolving the underlying issues that triggered the anti-government demonstrations.
"We must stay together and avoid selfishness, egotism, and chauvinism, replacing the cause we have believed in for so long," the governor said adding that only bipartisan talks could guide the country towards development and nation-building.
He cautioned leaders against standing in the way of the bipartisan talks saying this could worsen hardships facing the masses.
Nyongo’s remarks come weeks after some government officials voiced their opposition to the ongoing talks at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi. Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has openly criticized the process saying it was a scheme by Azimio leader Raila Odinga to derail the Kenya Kwanza development agenda.
Gachagua revealed that he directed Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot and his National Assembly counterpart Kimani Ichung’wah to prioritize serving the needs of Kenyan citizens ahead of their participation in the talks.
The dialogue committee has made little headway even as the Kenya Kwanza and Azimio teams continue to disagree on key issues.
The primary point of contention revolves around the establishment of certain offices and whether they should operate within a parliamentary or presidential system of government.
Azimio supports the creation of the Office of the Prime Minister within a parliamentary system, whereas Kenya Kwanza advocates for anchoring the Office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary in the constitution.
Electoral Justice and Related Matters also see the two sides at odds. Kenya Kwanza's focus is on filling vacancies in the IEBC, while Azimio calls for a comprehensive review of the electoral process framework.
Another area of debate concerns the boundaries delimitation function of the IEBC. Azimio suggests that it should be transferred to a new constitutional body, while Kenya Kwanza argues for its retention within the electoral commission.
There is also a sharp divide on calls to audit the 2022 presidential election. Kenya Kwanza believes an audit is unnecessary, citing the Supreme Court's judgment, while Azimio insists on an independent forensic audit.
With almost half of the 60 days given to the dialogue committee elapsing without much ground being covered, Nyong’o is now reminding the team of the urgency of concluding the talks, emphasizing that time was running out. He called on leaders to drop their hardline stance and embrace the spirit of dialogue.
“The faster we conclude these talks the better for the country. Let us tone down on hardliner attitudes and embrace dialogue,” he said.
Now in its fourth week, the dialogue committee is expected to commence the hearing of public feedback from stakeholders among them the IEBC selection panel and IEBC secretariat.
The committee is also expected to consider a report from its technical committee coming from the 142 memorandum submissions from the public participation process.