Bipartisan talks on the brink of collapse as parties take hardline stand

When President William Rutohosted leaders of Parliament led by National Assembly Leader of Majority Kimani Ichungwa and his Senate Counterpart Aaron Cheruiyot to establish a framework for the bipartisan strategy at State House Nairobi. [PCS]

Azimio has named three non-parliamentary members to the team that will represent the opposition in the bipartisan talks in a push to have a process akin to the National Accord.

In a move that threatens to scuttle the impending talks, Azimio team chair MP Otiende Amolo yesterday announced that they had appointed Prof Makau Mutua and Jubilee Party secretary general Jeremiah Kioni as assisting counsel and advocate Paul Mwangi as a joint secretary.

“This is an extra parliamentary process initiated by the principals of Kenya Kwanza and Azimio La Umoja One Kenya. We urge our counterparts to accept the text and spirit of the Constitution of public participation, consultation and inclusivity in such processes,” said Amolo.

The Azimio stand contradicts that of Kenya Kwanza Alliance which after a Parliamentary Group meeting on Tuesday at State House, Nairobi, asserted that it would only participate in the talks if they were steered by members from within the august House.

An insistence on an extra-parliamentary process by the Raila Odinga-led Azimio now puts the talks in jeopardy.

Amolo however, justified the appointment of non-parliamentary members to the Azimio team saying it is within the law.

“The Constitution allows for Parliament to conduct public participation and that is done outside Parliament so the inclusion of the three new members is within the law,” he said.

The seven-member Azimio team accused their Kenya Kwanza Alliance counterparts of delay tactics evidenced by lack of appointment of a co-chair and inclusion of Eldas MP Adan Keynan in the talks yet he is a Jubilee lawmaker which is an affiliate party of Azimio.

They called for removal of Keynan from the ad-hoc committee for the talks to progress.

“We note that our counterparts have named Adan Keynan as part of their  team. Keynan is a member of Azimio. The issue of party discipline is one of the four cardinal issues on the table and his inclusion is in bad faith and intended to delay the process. We, therefore, request he be replaced,” said the Rarieda MP.  

“We note the delay in naming the 7-member team and that up to now they have not named their chair leaving us at a loss as to whom to engage,” he added.

The team said it had prepared a draft framework of engagement to guide the process all the while reiterating its commitment to honest, open and genuine dialogue that will result in meaningful change in the lives of Kenyans.

“We will give every effort to find answers to the four main issues as framed by the coalition namely; a reduction in cost of unga, electricity and fuel, forensic audit of the IEBC servers, bipartisan reconstitution of the IEBC, and respect for democracy and party discipline,” they said.

Earlier, ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna had indicated a 90 per cent chance of going back to anti-government protests thanks to alleged lack of seriousness from the Kenya Kwanza team.

"We are returning to rallies because the Kenya Kwanza side has shown a lack of commitment to the bipartisan negotiations. We will go back to the people because it would be better if we have a conversation around the cost of living," he said.

Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale however implored the legislator to cease calls for mass protests and give dialogue a chance.

“The fact that the talks have been agreed on that will take place than what they are announcing should be put on hold. It is a serious oxymoron. They verified and said we want talks to take place and they are the same ones who now want to start side shows at the expense of the talks,” said Dr Khalwale.

He, however, urged the Azimio leaders to drop the act if they were not interested in talks to ensure peace.

“They are now going back to barazas and Kamukunji. It is their right. We cannot dictate to them what to do. But I ask them to go and reflect on what they are doing. If they do not believe in bipartisan talks then why waste time and resources inviting us to those talks?” he posed.

This came even as Azimio commenced its town hall meetings at Ufungamano house with a public baraza scheduled for this Sunday at Jacaranda grounds.

It now remains to be seen whether Kenya Kwanza will cede to the demands of the opposition or have its way in the talks.

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