Raila meets MPs as Kenya Kwanza now moves to save talks

Raila Odinga

Azimio leader Raila Odinga addresses journalists at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation in Nairobi on May 16 when he vowed to mobilise Kenyans to reject the Finance Bill 2023. 

Photo credit: File

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga will today chair a parliamentary group (PG) meeting of the coalition whose resolutions could reignite his clash with President William Ruto.

This even as it emerged that the government was willing to heed to the opposition’s four irreducible minimums to save the suspended bipartisan talks.

The special PG meeting is expected to make a stand on whether to dissolve the talks, undertake housekeeping ahead of the resumption of the National Assembly sittings next week and deliberate on the controversial Finance Bill 2023.

Today marks the end of Mr Odinga’s six-day ultimatum for the Kenya Kwanza side to address their four major concerns. The coalition had requested for preliminary actions on the cost of living, preservation of the electoral agency’s servers, suspension of the commissioners selection panel and a cessation of interference with Azimio affiliate parties.

Yesterday, Azimio co-principal Eugene Wamalwa maintained that they would end the talks today should Kenya Kwanza fail to make a commitment on the four concerns.

“Our counterparts in Kenya Kwanza have not been serious about the talks and we have made it clear that tomorrow (today) if they shall not have made a commitment, the talks will stand dissolved,” Mr Wamalwa told the Nation yesterday.

Even as the former Defence Cabinet Secretary talked tough, the Nation established that President Ruto’s camp was making frantic efforts to salvage the talks.

“I don’t foresee dissolution of the talks because I am aware that the Kenya Kwanza side has written a commitment letter to our team pledging that it was ready to accede to our concerns and take preliminary action,” a source said yesterday. It was however, not clear whether the government side was ready to act on all the demands.

The bipartisan talks team co-chair MP Otiende Amollo (Rarieda, ODM) said he will update today’s PG on the latest developments “for it and the principals to make the final decision on the matter”. His co-chair, MP George Murugara (Tharaka, UDA) remained non-committal on whether Kenya Kwanza had ceded ground for Azimio.

But Bomet senator Hillary Sigei, a member of the Kenya Kwanza team, appeared to be in the know on the latest developments, stating that the talks would resume this week.

“We hope to resume the talks in the course of the week. We tasked our co-chairs to agree on a way forward on the sticky issues which stalled the talks,” Mr Sigei said.

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi disclosed that apart from an update on the bipartisan talks, the special PG, which will take place at the Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka command centre in Karen, Nairobi, shall also give the members an opportunity to go through the controversial Finance Bill and take a position on it.

Mr Odinga has termed the Bill punitive, and today’s PG is expected to adopt a coalition stand, setting the stage for a face-off with the President’s Kenya Kwanza side in Parliament.

“We shall also be doing housekeeping business, including settling on the replacement for Sabina Chege as the Deputy Minority Whip,” said Mr Wandayi.

He added: “The PG will come up with far reaching resolutions that will have great ramifications not only on the politics of the country but also on the socio-economic architecture of our nation.”