Ruto-Raila talks: Team now wants Parliament to anchor crisis discussions in law

Kalonzo Musyoka

Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka (left) and National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah shake hands during the start of talks between the government and the Opposition at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi on August 9, 2023.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

The eight-member technical team formed by President William Ruto and Opposition leader Raila Odinga is working on a motion to be tabled in Parliament to anchor the 2022 post-election crisis talks in law, Sunday Nation has established.

The decision to anchor the talks in law suggests the negotiations by the ruling Kenya Kwanza and the opposition Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition could come up with recommendations with far-reaching political ramifications and which could require parliamentary approval.

This even as details of the involvement of diplomats in the talks emerged. The two sides were by August 12, 2023, toying with the idea of inviting diplomats from the West to grace the inaugural session by the negotiation team tomorrow at Bomas of Kenya.

It also emerged that former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo will not be physically present in the discussions.

Mr Obasanjo, who initiated the talks by having President Ruto and Mr Odinga have a face-to-face meeting, will only come in whenever there is a standoff, according to a member of the talks team.

“He is the guarantor of the talks but will not be present in those meetings. The talks will be chaired by the two team leaders. He remains on standby and will be stepping in any time there is a standoff.

Jubilee Secretary General, a member of the opposition technical team, confirmed they met on Friday and yesterday. The team is expected to meet today again ahead of the start of talks tomorrow.

Sunday Nation has established that the team has been tasked with reviewing the framework agreement, framing the agenda and crafting a motion that will entrench the talks in law.

“The team is expected to make a presentation to the plenary on Monday. They are required to come up with a motion to be taken to Parliament so that the talks are entrenched in law,” revealed a member of the negotiation team.

“There is a joint motion drafted by Kenya Kwanza team leader Kimani Ichung’wah but the technical teams have to fine tune it before it can be taken to Parliament,” the member who spoke off record said.

Kenya Kwanza Alliance has High Court Advocate Muthomi Thiankolu, Dr Linda Musumba, a law lecturer and an advocate, lawyer Nick Biketi and law lecturer Dr Duncan Ojwang in its technical team.

Azimio on the other hand has Mr Kioni, university lecturer Dr Adams Oloo, former East Africa Legislative Assembly MP Zein Abubakar and Isabel Githinji.

Representatives of the two teams had agreed to form a technical team to iron out their differences on the agenda for the negotiations.

Mr Ichung’wa, while naming his team, said the members “will play a pivotal role in supporting our delegation throughout the ongoing dialogue engagement.”

“Their expertise will be of high value in shaping the conversation. Kenya Kwanza remains firmly committed to open and productive dialogue and reaffirms that we will engage in the talks with utmost good faith and firm commitment to our Constitution and the laws of Kenya,” said Mr Ichung’wah.

ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya confirmed that various stakeholders, including diplomats, religious leaders and civil society groups had been invited for the inaugural session. All stakeholders have been invited to witness the inaugural meeting,” said Mr Oparanya.

He argues that the reason for anchoring the talks in law is to prevent a suit challenging the mandate of the team.

“It is basically meant to make the process legal. We don’t want a situation where one goes to court to challenge their mandate,” he explained.

Today, Mr Odinga is expected to hold talks with Delaware Senator Chris Andrew Coons who was behind former President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga’s handshake in 2018.

“He (Senator Coons) is likely to jet in by Saturday for the scheduled meeting,” said a senior official within Azimio.

“He (Raila) had to cancel some of his earlier planned engagements to create time for the meeting with the US Senator,” said the official.

State House officials said they needed time to confirm if Senator Coons would also have talks with Dr Ruto. The President is scheduled to attend a church service in the morning. His schedule after the service was not yet clear.

Sources in the bi-partisan talks claimed there was a lot of pressure from the international community for the warring camps to resolve the standoff.

Both President Ruto and Mr Odinga have ruled out any form of power sharing. Kenya Kwanza had listed the reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), implementation of the two-thirds gender rule, entrenchment of the Constituency Development Fund, creation of the Office of the Leader of the Opposition and entrenchment of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary in the Constitution.

Azimio wants the high cost of living, audit of the 2022 presidential election results, preventing interference with political parties and outstanding constitutional issues on governance, adequate checks and balances and delimitation of boundaries added to the list.