Ruto, Raila allies object inclusion of lawmakers

Azimio la Umoja leaders address the press at the SKM Command Center regarding bipartisan talks, April 18, 2023. [Silas Otieno, Standard]

President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga will have to go back to the drawing board after their teams hit a snag over the composition of the 14-member ad-hoc committee.

Kenya Kwanza and Azimio leaders will decide the fate of two MPs Adan Keynan (Eldas) and David Pkosing (Pokot South) whose inclusion in the bi-partisan team has ruffled feathers.

This comes even as the committee is expected to commence meetings next week to deliberate key issues among them the reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) selection panel.

Speaking after a meeting of the House leadership in Nairobi, yesterday, Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi explained that the opposition wants Keynan removed as a Kenya Kwanza bipartisan committee member on grounds that he is a member of Jubilee which is an affiliate of Azimio.

On the other hand, Kenya Kwanza Alliance raised issues over the inclusion of Pkosing who was picked to represent Azimio despite being a member of the Kenya Union Party (KUP) which recently pledged allegiance to the Ruto-led alliance.

“They (Kenya Kwanza) have also raised an issue in the course of our discussions about our inclusion of Pkosing on grounds that his party leader John Lonyangapuo has gotten into engagement with their party. Our objection has amounted to a stalemate,” said Wandayi.

“For us to resolve this matter and move forward, we shall be referring this matter to the leadership of our respective coalitions with the view of having it resolved as soon as possible. But more importantly, we have allowed the two negotiating teams to begin engaging informally,” he added.

Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot noted that the early morning meeting symbolised an eventual understanding between the warring sides.

“The process of first coming together and listening to each other has started. We have allowed two negotiating teams to begin exploring informally in terms of preference of bipartisan committee and nature they should take and if there are areas of disagreement then they get back to us,” said Cheruiyot.

The teams have also settled on Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo (Azimio) and Tharaka Nithi MP Murugara Gitonga (Kenya Kwanza) as the co-hosts of the ad-hoc committee.

At the same time, the bipartisan committee has warned politicians against making statements that would jeopardise the process.

Speaking after their inaugural meeting yesterday, co-chair Otiende said the committee had noted the concerns raised about its composition and nature of talks - whether parliamentary or extra-parliamentary-  and agreed to engage on the matter.