Azimio to resume anti-govt protests on Tuesday May 2

Azimio's Wycliffe Oparanya

Azimio Executive Council chair and former Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya (left) Sirisia MP Peter Salasya during Azimio la Umoja demonstrations on March 27, 2023. The Raila-led coalition has said it will resume the anti-government protests on Tuesday May 2.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Opposition to resume nationwide mass protests on Tuesday May 2, Azimio National Executive Council chairman Wycliffe Oparanya has announced.

The Raila Odinga-led Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition has also accused Kenya Kwanza of President William Ruto of a lack of commitment to bipartisan talks adding that the protests will continue even as the negotiations go on.

"We have set the date on a Tuesday to excuse workers who shall be celebrating Labour Day on Monday May 1," Mr Oparanya told Nation.Africa.

The announcement came even as the bi-partisan talks to resolve the political crisis pitying the Azimio coalition against the government enters a critical stage on Tuesday April 25.

Mr Odinga had last week vowed to ensure the resumption of the street protests after Ramadan which ended last Friday, in a bid to compel the government to address concerns by the Opposition.

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader has insisted that the protests would continue to push the government to address the high cost of living through the restoration of the subsidy programs on unga, fuel, electricity and school fees, opening last year’s presidential election servers for audit, protection of the letter and spirit of fidelity to multi-party democracy and adherence to the principle of inclusivity in the appointment of civil servants.

On Tuesday, the 14-member bi-partisan team co-chaired by MPs Otiende Amollo (Rarieda) and George Murugara (Tharaka) is expected to hold its second meeting to deliberate on fundamental issues and strike a balance on the dimension the negotiations will take.

“We are committed to meeting and sitting. The essence is that from Tuesday we are engaging on the framework agreement. We don’t know how long it will take but we believe we should settle on the framework agreement so that we start the meaningful engagements immediately after,” Dr Amollo told Nation on Sunday.

The team during its meeting on Thursday last week agreed to engage the appointing authorities, President Ruto and Mr Odinga, on the committee’s composition, formalization and the nature of talks whether parliamentary or extra-parliamentary.

“The engagement is ongoing. Usually, an engagement is not something with timelines and all that. Ours was an engagement with ourselves and the appointing authorities and it is ongoing,” said the Rarieda MP.

Dr Amollo pointed out that the nature of the engagement with the two principals does not mean the team had reverted their responsibilities to the duo.

On Sunday, members of the civil society also threw their weight behind Mr Odinga’s call for reconstitution of the electoral agency, insisting that the current legal framework does not inspire trust and confidence among key stakeholders and the general public.

Kenya National Civil Society Centre (KNCSC) Executive Director Suba Churchill said there is a need for a complete overhaul of the process of constituting the selection panel for the appointment of the chairperson and commission (IEBC) to guarantee its impartiality.

The law as finally amended provides that the seven-member Selection Panel for the appointment of the Chairperson and Members of the IEBC shall comprise two slots for the Parliamentary Service Commission, two slots for the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya, one slot for the Public Service Commission, one slot for the Political Parties Liaison Committee and one slot for the Law Society of Kenya.

“While the Parliamentary Service Commission that nominates two representatives to the Selection Panel, and the Public Service Commission that nominates one representative are also constitutional commissions, the role that a sitting President plays directly in the appointment of their leadership and members makes their representatives amenable to the influence and manipulation by the Executive,” Mr Churchill said.

He noted that it would be unconstitutional to proceed with the current legal framework for the reconstitution of the IEBC that would lead to the establishment of another election management body that “does not inspire trust and confidence among key stakeholders and the general public.”