Ruto Team Explains Why It Declined Azimio Demands in Bipartisan Talks

Tharaka MP and Co-Chair of Bipartisan Parliamentary Team speaking to the press on Tuesday, May 23, 2023.
Tharaka MP and Co-Chair of Bipartisan Parliamentary Team speaking to the press on Tuesday, May 23, 2023.
Esther Okenyuri

The Kenya Kwanza Bipartisan Team on Tuesday, May 23, explained why a parliamentary dialogue with Azimio La Umoja, under former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, collapsed.

Nominated senator, Esther Okenyuri, in a statement released on the same day, disclosed that the two parties differed on priorities

Azimio, according to the senator, made illogical demands contrary to Kenya Kwanza's perspective.

“The Kenya Kwanza side considered the issue of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) selection panel to be the most urgent.

Esther Okenyuri
Nominated Senator Esther Okenyuri sitting in a Senate Standing Committee on Trade, Industrialization and Tourism on Thursday, May 4, 2023.
Esther Okenyuri

“On the other hand, the Azimio side preferred to prioritise the preservation of the IEBC servers,” Okenyuri detailed why the parliamentary dialogue collapsed for the umpteenth time.

Kenya Kwanza noted that according to their deliberations, the election server issue could not have preceded the reconstitution of the IEBC selection panel.

The Kenya Kwanza side, however, did not comment on Azimio's explanation of the dialogue failing to take off. 

While calling off the bipartisan talks, Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna explained that the two teams could not agree on fundamental issues.

In contradiction to Okenyuri’s statement, Sifuna, a member of Azimio’s bipartisan team, noted that Kenya Kwanza was not sincere in reconstituting the IEBC selection panel.

"We have had to suspend the bipartisan dialogue after we could not persuade our friends from Kenya Kwanza to concede to some common-sense interim measures

“This included; lowering of the cost of unga, preservation of the election servers, suspension of IEBC reconstitution and for them to leave Jubilee alone,” the first-term legislator noted on Tuesday, May 23

Sifuna noted that the suspension was temporary and should Kenya Kwanza agree on raised issues, the talks would resume in seven days.

On matters, Jubilee, a faction led by East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) MP, Kanini Kega, is wrestling for the control of the party from President (Rtd) Uhuru Kenyatta's grasp. 

Azimio la Umoja Bipartisan Team
Chair of the Azimio bi-partisan talks team Otiende Amolo and other negotiators during a press briefing in Nairobi on April 13, 2023.
Azimio la Umoja

The Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) approved the Nominated MP Sabina Chege as Party leader and Kega as secretary general in place of Uhuru and Jeremiah Kioni, respectively. However, a court stayed the order offering Uhuru's wing a reprieve. 

Azimio Leader Raila Odinga threatened to recall protests if Kenya Kwanza did not exude fidelity on the bipartisan talks and accused Ruto of using the ORPP to fight Uhuru.

"We said that the Ruto government should not interfere with running political parties. Political parties must be allowed to conduct their affairs independently without interference from the state. 

“This is a warning. Azimio La Umoja will not accept interference by the government in the running of affairs of parties in the coalition. We therefore urge the registrar to move with speed and register the new officials of the Jubilee Party failure to which there would be consequences,” Raila warned while addressing Siaya residents at a charity event. 

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