Narc-Kenya party leader Martha Karua and Jubilee Party Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni have fronted a new political movement, lending some credence to possible differences within the opposition.
Dubbed Kamwene Leadership Forum, the new formation meant to champion the interests of Mt Kenya region started gaining traction after Azimio la Umoja One Kenya failed to name a member from the populous region to the National Dialogue Committee.
On Tuesday, Ms Karua was quick to point out that Kamwene was a space through which Mt Kenya leaders speak.
“It does not mean we are not in Azimio, if we weren’t we would say it without beating around the bush. You saw us speak as Azimio, today we are here speaking as Kamwene, tomorrow I will speak as Narc-Kenya, all these are spaces we occupy,” she said.
Ms Karua and Mr Kioni presented their own assessment of President William Ruto’s one year in office at the Jubilee Party headquarters just days after Azimio issued its scorecard of the current administration at a briefing that was attended by the two.
“This is Kamwene Leadership Forum, a group of people who are not in Kenya Kwanza, neither are they in Azimio, but are pushing the interests of the Mountain,” Mr Kioni said, even though their assessment of the Ruto regime largely seemed to agree with that of Azimio.
“We find actions by the Kenya Kwanza illegitimate regime, clueless and insensitive,” said Ms Karua.
The decision by the Kamwene team to hold a press briefing addressing issues that had already been covered by Azimio less than 72 hours earlier has raised questions on whether there could be cracks within the opposition over the ongoing talks.
A source within Azimio told the Nation that the differences may have arisen during the crisis meeting convened by Mr Odinga last week.
In the meeting, some senior opposition officials had suggested that the talks be suspended to protest against the government’s decision to increase fuel prices.
Some also argued that there was no commitment by President Ruto on some of the agenda items after he held a meeting with ODM rebel MPs.
Cost of living and interference with political parties by the ruling outfit are some of the agenda items for discussions by the 10-member dialogue committee.
“It was, therefore, a feeling that so that we don’t make the people feel abandoned, we should suspend the talks until Kenya Kwanza reduces the new fuel prices. That way, the people would see that we are still with them,” said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity because the coalition does not authorise him to issue press statements.
Reportedly, Ms Karua and Mr Kioni were in agreement with these sentiments but were overruled by Mr Odinga and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka.
After the crisis meeting, Mr Odinga had told journalists that the coalition would make a major announcement about the talks the following day.
But this was shelved, with Mr Odinga only making reference to the 10 million signatures the coalition has collected.
“Generally, the mood of the leaders during the meeting was that of betrayal. Within Azimio, there is that feeling that this team (Kenya Kwanza) is taking us for a ride,” said the source.
Mr Kioni on Tuesday said that had he been the one in Mr Odinga’s shoes, he would have by now pulled out of the talks.
“We are going nowhere with these talks, but we are in support of Baba and the decision he has taken,” said Mr Kioni.