Raila Odinga, the Azimio la Umoja leader, said the coalition wants to engage citizens directly first.
“We want to ensure our people understand what is happening. We are committed to the spirit of dialogue,” he said in a statement.
Press release pic.twitter.com/vnYn4D2Fm8April 11, 2023
Raila, who has vied for the presidency five times, albeit unsuccessfully, insists that the talks should be inclusive and expanded beyond parliament. He has warned that the opposition will pull out of the talks if the government side shows lack of seriousness.
“The government should come to the table with a clean hand, committed to an honest and transparent process,” the former prime minister said.
According to Edwin Kegoli, a political analyst in Nairobi, calling for political meetings ahead of the talks is Raila’s way of piling pressure on President William Ruto to ensure all opposition concerns are addressed.
“Raila wants to warn that he is ready to call for new protests if talks fail,” he says. “The opposition pushed President Ruto to call for talks, they will ensure they get what they want.”
Representative poached from opposition
Both the government and opposition have selected representatives from the National Assembly and Senate who will engage in the talks.
The seven-member team from the opposition comprises Senators Edwin Sifuna, Ledama Olekina and Enoch Wambua; as well as Members of Parliament Otiende Amollo, David P’Kosing, Millie Odhiambo and Amina Mnyanzi.READ MORE Kenya: ‘We don’t recognise you and your government’, Raila tells Ruto after whistleblower allegations
On the government side are Senators Boni Khalwale, Hillary Sigei and Essy Okenyuri. MPs include George Murugara, Mwengi Mutuse, Lydia Haika and Adan Keynan.
The Kenya Kwanza Parliamentary Group affirms its support for government efforts to steer the economy to recovery. pic.twitter.com/RPeK3IGFuk— William Samoei Ruto, PhD (@WilliamsRuto) April 11, 2023
The opposition has however reacted angrily to the appointment of Adan Keynan, who was elected on a Jubilee Party ticket, which is under Azimio la Umoja. This is despite the fact that Keynan later decamped to the ruling coalition to support Ruto.
Ledama Olekina, the minority whip in the Senate, says Keynan’s appointment is a clear indication the government is taking the talks lightly.
“Kenya Kwanza lacks seriousness of the by-partisan deliberation. We are back to the people,” he said.
The lack of seriousness of the by-partisan deliberation on the KK part is the straw that broke the camel's back! We are back to the people …April 11, 2023
Kegoli warns that such a move by President Ruto – who is accused by the opposition of having gone against the Constitution and the Political Parties Act by raiding the Jubilee Party – might undermine the talks. Officially, Keynan is in the opposition.
Government, opposition holding positions
Even before the talks begin, a crisis looms over discrepancies in the agenda that will be discussed by both parties.
The opposition wants the talks to include a discussion on reducing the cost of living, opening the servers of the 2022 presidential results and reforming the electoral body.
Raila has been calling for the re-opening and auditing of the servers to ascertain the credibility of the presidential results.
However, Kimani Ichung’wa, the government leader in Parliament, said the talks will be limited to electoral reforms. He says redress on any electoral matters should be sought from the Supreme Court, which ruled that Ruto won the presidency.
“We shall resist any attempt by the opposition to blackmail the government. We have no keys to IEBC servers,” he says.
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