Team agrees to conclude bipartisan talks in 60 days

Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo (centre) and other members of the bipartisan committee address journalists

Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo (centre) and other members of the bipartisan committee address journalists at Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, on May 10, 2023. 

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

The 14-member bipartisan committee yesterday announced that talks would be concluded within 60 days, with urgent issues completed within a month.

Announcing the agreement yesterday, committee co-chair and Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo said the members have also agreed and finalised the framework to guide the talks.

On the form of engagement, he said there are three routes available: parliamentary through a motion, executive order or exercise of sovereignty under Article 1 of the Constitution where the team is formally constituted as long as there is political goodwill from both sides.

“The framework agreement will be signed by the members tomorrow morning. It is the most important thing,” said Mr Amollo at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi.

“On a time frame, we have agreed to constrain the time to 60 days. The more urgent issues will be dealt with within 30 days beginning today,” he added.

Among issues the committee will look at include the cost of living, audit of 2022 presidential election results, restructuring and reconstituting the electoral commission as well as outstanding constitutional matters such as governance, effective checks and balances, and boundaries delimitation, as raised by Azimio la Umoja One Kenya.

KK demands

Kenya Kwanza Alliance wants the committee to look into the reconstitution of the electoral commissioners’ selection panel, the creation of the office of Leader of Official Opposition and electoral reforms to ensure closure of electoral outcomes for post-election peace and national stability.

Others are the two-thirds gender rule, the entrenchment of funds controlled by legislators in the constitution and the legal framework to give effect to Article 37 of the constitution on organisers of demonstrations.

The new development comes as leaders allied to President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza warned their Azimio counterparts that they will not be held at ransom. They accused the Raila Odinga-led coalition of not being keen on the bipartisan committee talks and angling for extra-parliament engagements.

This was a rejoinder to Mr Odinga’s Monday issuance of a 48-hour ultimatum to the committee to ensure proper talks begin or they will resume protests. Azimio also demanded that the talks be concluded within 30 days.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei accused Azimio of not being forthright regarding the talks.

“It appears Azimio has a different agenda other than what should be discussed and that is why they continue bringing in trivial issues. This is no longer bipartisan talks as it feels like we are being held at ransom,” said Mr Cherargei. “But we want to tell them that we will not engage on issues outside what the committee had agreed on because the ground rules have been set and agreed upon. ”

Mathira MP Eric Wamumbi said he is not surprised by the myriad demands from Azimio, alleging that the opposition wants talks between President Ruto and Mr Odinga.

“That is not happening and we have pronounced ourselves on it that if talks are going to happen then they should be confined to Parliament,” said the MP. 

UDA Secretary-General Cleophas Malala called on Azimio to stop complicating the process because the mandate and scope of the committee are narrowing every day as the government addresses some of the issues.