Azimio tables fresh demands and unveils team for bipartisan talks

Azimio-One Kenya leadership led by Raila Odinga addresses the press in Nairobi on April 04,2023 where they gave ultimatums on how the ceas fire agreement should be done to easen tension between the opposition and the government. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition has named seven lawmakers to lead bi-partisan talks with the Kenya Kwanza Alliance even as it issued fresh demands.

Speaking during the Azimio Parliamentary Group meeting in Machakos yesterday, opposition leader Raila Odinga demanded proper review of the Constitution to cure what he termed ‘monopoly of power bestowed by the supreme law’.

“We are driven by the concern that in spite of the 2010 Constitution, our political culture retains a winner-take-all system. This is what has clearly been demonstrated by the UDA regime. This monopoly of power, by hook or crook, by the party in the State House can only rectify with a thoughtful, deliberative process involving all Kenyans,” said Raila.

“We need a proper constitutional review to cure the governance defects in the 2010 Constitution and remove the last vestiges of an imperial presidency. In our dialogue with Kenya Kwanza, we will be putting this matter on the table,” he added.

Azimio called for measures to lower the cost of unga, fuel, electricity and school fees.

The opposition also wants the ad hoc committee on bipartisan talks to recommend a forensic audit of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) servers used before, during, and after the 2022 presidential election.

Azimio called for review of the appointment and dismissal of IEBC commissioners, including their tenure of office, and recommend institutional, policy, legal, and constitutional mechanisms, restructuring and reforms of the commission.

At the same time, the opposition wants the restructuring of IEBC by devolving structures to the counties and the committee to consider whether the country really needs commissioners working on permanent basis.

Other proposals are: recommend legal, policy, and institutional reforms to strengthen and improve the electoral system and processes to entrench a culture of free and fair elections administered in an impartial, transparent, simple, accurate, verifiable, and secure system.

Return of Cherera Four

Raila is also advocating for a review of the circumstances that led to the dismissal of the IEBC commissioners, commonly known as the Cherera Four, and their reinstatement to office.

Azimio leaders further called for review of the law to entrench party discipline/fidelity by requiring MPs who cross party lines after elections to seek fresh mandate from the electorate, and allowing parties to replace nominated MPs who cross party lines. The opposition also called for legislation to address electoral, governance and economic gaps.

Raila reiterated the proposal to hold the talks outside Parliament akin to the National Accord spearheaded by former UN Secretary General Koffi Annan.

And in a show of commitment to the bipartisan talks, the meeting settled on a seven-member team to lead negotiations with their Kenya Kwanza counterparts.

Azimio has picked senators Ledama Ole Kina (Narok), Edwin Sifuna (Nairobi), Enoch Wambua (Kitui), and MPs David Pkosing (Pokot South), Otiende Amollo (Rarieda), Millie Odhiambo (Suba North), and Amina Mnyanzi (Malindi). The members will be expected to voice Azimio’s demands in the joint ad-hoc committee which will deliberate and present its report to Parliament within 30 days of its establishment.

Failure to implement these demands, Raila said, Azimio would not hesitate to mobilize Kenyans to demand their rights within the framework of Article 37 of the Constitution.

“Kenya Kwanza implored us to give dialogue a chance. In this context, we agreed to call off the protests. We reserve our right to call for demonstrations should this process not bear fruit,” he said.

The PG meeting was attended by Azimio co-principals Martha Karua and Kalonzo Musyoka, MPs, senators, governors and MCAs. There was consensus that President William Ruto’s government must immediately address the high cost of living.

“Fully aware that the majority of Kenyans are going through very difficult times occasioned by high cost of basic commodities, including food, fuel, electricity and school fees, Azimio demands immediate consideration of these issues as a precursor to the negotiations,” said Wiper leader Kalonzo who read the resolutions on behalf of the Azimio leadership.

The leaders maintained that the opposition was ready for open, genuine, honest and transparent negotiations devoid of grandstanding.

In his opening remarks, Raila demanded that Kenya Kwanza must be ready to agree to a forensic audit of the IEBC servers as well as ensure legal, policy and institutional reforms are put in place to improve the electoral system.

Karua said Azimio’s push for the opening of the IEBC servers was informed by the need to ensure voters get the leadership they vote for.

“We will not sweep dirt under the carpet this time round. The reason people go to vote is for them to get the leaders they choose. If they (Kenya Kwanza) are confident they were fairly elected, they should not resist opening of the servers,” she said.

The Narc Kenya leader maintained the servers were about people’s voices and that Azimio’s demands were people-centered.

The Azimio declaration was, however, at odds with an earlier pronouncement by President Ruto who rejected calls by Raila for talks mirroring the 2008 National Accord.

The President declared he would not be a party to such arrangement “as selfish talks for politicians ended after last year’s elections”.

He spoke during a whirlwind tour of Kawle, Nyandarua, and Nakuru, during which he unveiled several development projects.