Ruto Bipartisan Team Moves To Contain Raila Maandamano Threats

The team led by their chair, George Murugara claimed that Azimio was looking for ways of scuttling the talks by placing too many demands.

Ruto Bipartisan Team Moves To Contain Raila Maandamano Threats
Tharaka MP George Murugara with Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo addresses the media on the bipartisan talks on Tuesday, April 25, 2023. /FILE

The Kenya Kwanza bipartisan talks team on Thursday, May 25 revealed that it was ready to continue with the talks, accusing their Azimio la Umoja counterparts of erecting barriers blocking the progress of the talks.

Speaking during a press briefing in Nairobi, the team led by their chair, George Murugara claimed that Azimio was looking for ways of scuttling the talks by placing too many demands.

Kenya Kwanza nonetheless invited Azimio for a consensus on Monday, May 29, with Murugara, the Tharaka Member of parliament (MP), urging Rarieda lawmaker who is also co-chair of the bipartisan team Otiende Amollo to lead the Azimio team back to the table for negotiations.

The Kenya Kwanza, Azimio Coalition bipartisan talks team during a press briefing on April 13, 2023. /AZIMIO LA UMOJA

"We have said this before that we need to have the talks at arm's length, where we are all equal, in as much as we fill there are sustain roadblocks being mounted on our path, we are confident that we can surmount those roadblocks so that the talks can go on because we are committed to having fruitful talks," he said.

Murugara noted that there are urgent issues like the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that can't be held in abeyance for too long. 

"We need to talk and agree, we need to know from them what the issue with the current law is so that we agree on the way forward, and if it's necessary that we change the law, we bring it to the house," Murugara said. 

The Kenya Kwanza team maintained that there was enough time for the talks, adding that there were provisions for the 14-member bipartisan team to extend the period of the talks if necessary.

“We are confident that we shall overcome all roadblocks in the talks because we are committed to ensuring we arrive at a fruitful conclusion,” Murugura confirmed.

He also noted that he would be requesting his co-chair to talk to thrash out outstanding issues before they resume the talks ahead of Tuesday, May 30's Azimio deadline.

"We haven't said we are going to concede to any demands, neither have we said we will not accede to the demands, these are talks and will agree," he said.

The Kenya Kwanza team held the presser after Azimio on Tuesday, May 23 suspended the bipartisan talks, accusing their counterparts of insecurity and retreating to consult their principles.

According to Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna, the 14-member committee failed to agree on four fundamental demands; lowering of the cost of Unga, preservation of the election servers, suspension of IEBC reconstitution and for Kenya Kwanza to leave Jubilee alone.

Azimio leader Raila Odinga on May 22, emphasized that if the Kenya Kwanza team was unable to meet their demands, they would call off the talks and resume the nationwide protests.

Meanwhile, Central Organisation of Trade Union (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli called for Raila and President William Ruto to shelve the bipartisan talks process meant to address the differences between the opposition and the government, and instead iron out their differences in person and lead the country towards economic recovery.

“The bi-partisan committee doesn’t have any meaning. President Ruto and Raila Odinga should meet because they are stakeholders in this country.

“The bipartisan committee members are people of a small rank and cannot advise the two leaders. They can find a solution if they meet. It not a must for there to be a handshake, it’s for the interest and common good of this country,” said Atwoli.

He added that Kenyan workers are worst hit by the prevailing economic times and face such grievous risks as losing their jobs, adding that it is only the two leaders who hold the solution to stopping this from happening.

“When the two meet, they can find a solution when they meet. It doesn't have to be a handshake, but for the common good of this country, the two must together state that this is where we are, how can we save this country?

“There is no escape route for the opposition leaders or those in government or workers. There's no way we can come up with a solution without coming together first," he added.

President William Ruto and COTU boss Francis Atwoli during the Labour Day Celebrations at Uhuru Gardens on May 1, 2023. /PCS