Raila-Ruto talks: What bipartisan committee agreed to prioritise

Kenya Kwanza and Azimio la Umoja's brigades head for talks at the Bomas of Kenya on August 9, 2023. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Entrenchment in the Constitution of the offices of the leader of the official opposition and Prime Cabinet Secretary will be the first order of business when the National Dialogue Committee officially kicks off the talks next week.

Reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will also be a prime feature of the talks.

The Kenya Kwanza and Azimio la Umoja teams are set to sign the new framework agreement on Wednesday.

All this is expected to take off after the Senate ratifies the operations of the National Dialogue Committee after the process sailed through the National Assembly. 

A source, who spoke to The Saturday Standard on condition of anonymity, revealed that the three issues would be considered and executed first before the others that have been clustered differently are addressed.

During a briefing Friday, the dialogue team co-chairs divulged that they had agreed on a new framework agreement to guide the process and that they had concretized the issues to be discussed into one document.

The absence of majority leaders Kimani Ichung'wah and Aaron Cheruiyot from the Kenya kwanza side and Senator Okong’o Omogeni from the Azimio faction were also conspicuous.

Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire, who was the acting chair of the Kenya Kwanza delegation in light of Kimani Ichung’wa’s absence, disclosed that the committee had agreed on a 16-day work plan - a deviation from the previous 60-day deadline set by the bipartisan team.

The work plan will be implemented immediately after the framework agreement is signed.

“We are now rearing to go and after next week we will now start working. We know that there is a lot of work but we are ready,” said Mbarire.

Azimio delegation leader Kalonzo Musyoka confirmed that the issues for deliberation had been framed and agreed on and that the team would hit the ground running.

“The agendas we have now are no longer about Azimio or Kenya Kwanza (but for the good of the country). They have been condensed into one document and will be discussed from next week,” stated Kalonzo.

The duo was, however, hesitant to give details of the issues agreed for discussion, noting that they would make them public next week after ratification of the talks by the Senate.

Our source, however, also revealed that issues to be discussed had been clustered into five agendas by the committee.

Cost of living and social economic issues, two-thirds gender rule, national unity and governance, and checks and balances in government have been clustered as one agenda.

Electoral justice and related issues like reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, boundaries delimitation, and audit of the 2022 General Election are another agenda for deliberation by the dialogue team.

Another cluster has grouped issues such as the entrenchment into the Constitution of the Constituency Development Fund, National Government Affirmative Action Fund, and Senate Oversight Fund as set for debate.

Further, fidelity to political parties, which has been a thorny issue will be up for discussion. 

The issues were presented to the national dialogue team by the technical committees from either side.

Prior to yesterday’s meeting, Kenya Kwanza Alliance was bullish that the talks would center on the reconstitution of the IEBC, implementation of two-thirds gender rule, entrenchment of Constituency development fund, establishment and entrenchment of the Office of the Leader of the Opposition and the embedment of the Office of Prime Cabinet Secretary.

On the flip side, Azimio was keen on having the cost of living, an audit of the 2022 presidential election results, restructuring and reconstitution of IEBC and related matters, measures to prevent interference with political parties as well as other outstanding constitutional matters.

The dialogue team also dismissed recent remarks by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and allies from either side of the political divide who felt that the talks would not yield much.

On Tuesday, the DP dismissed the ongoing bi-partisan talks between the Kenya Kwanza and Azimio coalitions, stating that nothing will come out of the dialogue.

Speaking during the burial ceremony of the late Anne Musau, who is the mother of Mwala MP Vincent Musyoka (Kawaya), in Machakos, Gachagua said the talks were only meant to dupe Kenyans, given Azimio leader Raila Odinga had allegedly already brokered a deal with President Ruto

He said Raila had met Ruto privately in Mombasa following the spate of anti-government protests where he agreed to a ‘ceasefire’ on condition that his personal demands were met.

The dialogue committee, however, poured cold water on the claim that theirs was just to idle around.

“These talks are of importance to Kenyans given that we are operating on good faith…we are operating as if nothing has happened outside of these talks,” remarked Kalonzo.

Mbarire said; “As Kenya Kwanza we are fully committed and we are here under clear instructions. There should be no fear that we will pull out of the talks. Don’t take what you hear out there very serious at times.”

Meanwhile, the Kenya Veterans for Peace hAS accused allies of President William Ruto and Raila of preaching water during the day and drinking lots of wine at night by throwing loads of insults and threats at the same opponents with whom they have resolved to hold a roundtable dialogue.

“Our experience drawn from other parts of the world is that such an approach has ended in the collapse of a well-intended mission with dangerous ramifications,” read the statement signed by executive chairman Bishop Robert M. Mbukua.

The statement also called on members of the dialogue committee to shut their ears from the political drumbeats from the outside.