Agenda set for National Dialogue Committee

Tuesday, August 29th, 2023 00:30 | By
Members of the National Dialogue Committee at Bomas during the start of the talks. PHOTO/Kenna Claude
Members of the National Dialogue Committee at Bomas during the start of the talks. PHOTO/Kenna Claude

Kenyans are looking forward to the beginning of the critical talks in a bid to resolve the political crisis that has prevailed since the presidential election one year ago.

The joint technical committee has set out the agenda for the National Dialogue Committee comprising members of Kenya Kwanza and Azimio la Umoja coalitions engaged in the talks. With the agenda agreed upon and the talks anchored in law, the talks should now begin in earnest as the Senate follows the National Assembly in giving the committee legal and constitutional backing. It is no surprise that the joint technical committee has prioritised two weighty issues that have contributed to the current national political impasse amid an unprecedented economic crisis.

The cost of living and social economic issues, two-thirds gender rule, national unity and governance and checks and balances in government have been clustered as one agenda for the talks.

Recognising that the existing political crisis arose out of the disputed closely contested 2022 presidential election, the technical committee has also listed electoral justice as a prime agenda. Electoral justice and related issues remain thorny as they involve the reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), boundaries delimitation and audit of the 2022 General Election. It is obvious that this agenda will be a sticking point in the talks since the two political adversaries. Azimio leader Raila Odinga challenged President William Ruto’s narrow win in the last election, but the Supreme Court dismissed his petition.

Since then, the two sides have engaged in a protracted political battle, with the Kenya Kwanza leaders insisting that they won the election and the Azimio leadership claiming the election was stolen, accusing IEBC of complicity.

Kenya Kwanza has denied the claims, frivolously opining the Azimio leadership is angling for a share of the government, an allegation that the Opposition has dismissed as cheap and false.

Despite the hullabaloo created by the disputed elections and the resultant national crisis and mass protests that preempted the talks, the National Dialogue Committee will have to come up with a political compromise to settle the matter. That is why the joint technical committee has embraced all the issues listed by the two sides and incorporated them into the agenda for discussions besides the two top items already mentioned. This is expected to create a win-win situation for both Azimio and Kenya Kwanza.

While the electoral and socio-economic issues, as well as fidelity to political parties, will be contentious during the talks, it seems like there is general agreement that some items listed in the agenda are likely to be quickly resolved.

This includes the proposal to entrench into the Constitution the Office of the Leader of Opposition and the Office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary.  Other items that are likely to find quick resolution during the 60 days that the committee is scheduled to hold its deliberations are entrenchment into the Constitution of the Constituency Development Fund, National Government Affirmative Action Fund and Senate Oversight Fund.

Now that the joint technical committee has set the agenda for the talks, the National Dialogue Committee should quickly embark on its work and submit its report within the stipulated period.

Wananchi expects the dust to settle on the political and economic crisis engulfing the country so that they can begin the journey to national reconciliation and healing. Kenyans are watching.

 —The writer comments on economic and justice affairs — [email protected]

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