Azimio: We have options should Ruto-Raila talks fail

Godfrey Osotsi

Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi (left) and his Nairobi counterpart Edwin Sifuna at a past function in Vihiga on April 1. The leaders have criticised Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua for disparaging the ongoing bipartisan talks.

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media GRoup

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya has said it will not be held at ransom by a section of Kenya Kwanza leaders opposed to the ongoing bipartisan talks, accusing the hardliners of trying to derail the process.

The Azimio leaders said they are committed to the talks aimed at reaching a political truce after the hotly contested 2022 elections as well as resolve other economic and governance issues, but they are not desperate.

Reading the riot act to Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua over his remarks disparaging the talks, Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi said the opposition has many options should the Kenya Kwanza hardliners wreck the talks. He said Azimio is not desperate and so their counterparts should not make the process look like it is there to benefit them only as issues of cost of living affect everyone.

“The talks are not about us but Kenyans. Don’t make it look like it is the opposition who will benefit and without it that is the end of life for us,” said Mr Osotsi on August 27, 2023.

Describing Mr Gachagua as a “loose cannon”, the legislator said Azimio has decided to ignore him as the talks are beyond him or Kenya Kwanza.

“Let him continue ranting. The talks are beyond him, the international community is even concerned about the talks,” he said.

A close confidant of Azimo leader Raila Odinga, Mr Osotsi said they have many strategies that they can invoke should Kenya Kwanza succeed in derailing the talks.

“As the adage goes, there are many ways of killing a rat. There are other strategies apart from demonstrations that we have and can invoke, but I will not divulge them. So they cannot intimidate us that we cannot exercise our constitutional rights,” he said.

Mr Gachagua has termed the ongoing talks “futile and meaningless to Kenyans” since nothing meaningful would come out of it.

ODM Secretary-General and Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna told Mr Gachagua that the ongoing dialogue is not about Azimio leaders but Kenyans. He said they are aware their counterparts came to the table begrudgingly, but they cannot stop Kenyans from talking.

“You cannot stop people from talking and let him (Rigathi) say whatever he wants to say and throw as many tantrums as he wants, but the talks will continue because for us this process is not about us but the people of Kenya,” said Mr Sifuna.

He added that not matter how much the hardliners insult the messenger, the responsibility of the messenger is to make sure the message is delivered.

“We know that they did not come to the table on their own volition but came reluctantly and so we expect that they will throw tantrums from time to time, but after that they have to listen to the message and the people,” he said.

Speaking during the burial of Mau Mau freedom fighter John Kiboko in Nyandarua County on Friday, Mr Odinga said the dialogue is crucial to solving problems the country faces.

“There is no mad person who can just wake up and go to the streets if there are no problems. Patriots are people who can dialogue to solve their problems,” said Mr Odinga.

In his response, Mr Gachagua said he does not oppose dialogue but his fear is that Mr Odinga will use the opportunity to “ask for nusu mkate” going by past experience.

The National Dialogue Committee was not amused by the DP’s comments that the talks are useless, with Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and UDA chairperson and Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire terming the assertions “unfortunate” and urging Kenyans to disregard them.

According to Ms Mbarire, the Kenya Kwanza team involved in the talks was sent there by President William Ruto and has clear instructions from him on what should be achieved.

“As the Kenya Kwanza team, I want to assure you that we are fully committed to these talks. We are here for a purpose and we have clear instructions on what to do. I therefore urge every Kenyan not to take anything you hear outside these talks very seriously,” Ms Mbarire said.

“This is a very important national exercise and every national leader should be properly guided and support it because it is about the future of this country,” added Mr Musyoka.

Meanwhile, the dialogue team announced they have agreed on a framework agreement that is expected to be signed by both teams on Wednesday after the Senate passes a motion in support of the talks on Tuesday.

Formal talks begin this week.