Raila Odinga calls crisis meeting over Bomas talks report

Raila Odinga

ODM leader Raila Odinga addresses party delegates at Rangenyo Primary School in Nyamira on November 27, 2023.

Photo credit: Ruth Mbula | Nation Media Group

The Raila Odinga-led Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition has convened a crisis Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting on Thursday to deliberate on the report of the National Dialogue Committee (NADCO) amid divisions among its top leadership over the issue of the cost of living.

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi on Monday invited Azimio legislators to the PG at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation (JOOF) in Upper Hill, Nairobi on Thursday, November 30, 2023 at 10am.

“…at the meeting, members shall deliberate on the report of the National Dialogue Committee with a view to taking a common position,” states Mr Wandayi’s invite to MPs in part.

The PG follows sharp differences by opposition luminaries, with Azimio council chairman, former president Uhuru Kenyatta, said to be uncomfortable with the report over the handling of the matter of the cost of living.

Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua and her DAP-Kenya counterpart Eugene Wamalwa have already distanced themselves from the report, with the latter insisting he would not append his signature to it despite being a member of the committee that drafted it.

Mr Odinga on Sunday said he had received the report but was yet to read it and make his comments, a statement that sources within the coalition yesterday said was intended to moderate the ongoing sharp criticism of the report by his colleagues.

“Remember the dialogue between the government and opposition was initiated by members of the diplomatic community who pushed for it and both President Ruto and Mr Odinga have no option but to support it in a bid to ensure peace and stability in the country, away from street protests,” a source within Azimio told Nation on Monday.

The source pointed out that Western envoys were keen on how both camps handle the report, and with President Ruto already endorsing it, all eyes were now on Mr Odinga.

Some opposition legislators have also started attacking the report even before the PG, with Saboti MP Caleb Amisi, Mr Odinga’s ally, voicing his reservations over the failure to effectively handle the issue of cost of living by the committee.

It was not immediately clear whether Mr Kenyatta would attend the meeting.

Mr Wamalwa who on Sunday insisted that Kenyans were given a raw deal and vowed not to append his signature to the report, yesterday said he will attend the PG and voice his concerns.

When reached for comment on whether Kenya Kwanza would also hold a PG to take a common stand on the report, National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wa said “PGs are convened by the party leader (President Ruto) and he hasn’t.”

President Ruto had already pronounced himself on the report on Sunday, urging MPs to support it as he promised to implement the recommendations by the committee.

Among the recommendations agreed upon by the team are the creation of the post of Official Opposition Leader with two deputies, and entrenching the Prime Cabinet Secretary’s office into law.

Other proposals by the team include evaluating the 2022 electoral process, expanding the IEBC selection panel, extending the period for presidential petitions from 14 to 21 days and cutting the government’s travel budget.

Yesterday, a source within Azimio coalition told Nation that Mr Odinga was facing a tough balancing act, and was “damned if he supports the report, and damned if he does not support it”.

Another source in Azimio disclosed that whereas Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka hold that street protests is within the law, they were reluctant to return their supporters to the streets, a move that appears to clash with Ms Karua’s take.

The source said there is a feeling that some leaders from Mt Kenya region were pushing for the protests “yet they have not been able to rally their supporters to the streets”.