Inside Politics

Azimio meets after talks deadline lapse

Monday, June 5th, 2023 05:30 | By
Azimio council during a press brief on May 4, 2023.
Azimio council during a press brief on May 4, 2023. PHOTO/Courtesy

Top Azimio la Umoja leaders will today hold a crucial meeting to decide on their next course of action following the lapse of the deadline they had given to the Kenya Kwanza government to heed to their demands over the high cost of living and electoral reforms.

 Today’s meeting comes amid murmurs that the Azimio top brass was increasingly losing patience with the slow pace of the bipartisan talks and the Kenya Kwanza government’s commitment to the initiative.

The meeting comes even as President William Ruto read the Riot Act to MPs planning to oppose the controversial Finance Bill, 2023, warning them of undisclosed consequences should they do so (see separate story).

Speaking to People Daily, ODM Deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya said the Azimio brigade was dismayed with the slow pace their counterparts in government were handling the talks.

“We have seen a deliberate attempt by our counterparts to derail the talks. They are too slow and they keep on pushing us back and forth. We are now fatigued by their actions,’’ Oparanya revealed.

He added that the Azimio team led by Raila Odinga will today convene to decide the next course of action in their push for better governance, in particular, the withdrawal of the controversial Finance Bill.

He said the meeting in Nairobi will consider several options, including and not limited to taking back to the streets to push through their demands.

“Last Friday, they called a meeting, but they were moving at a snail’s speed to act on our recommendations or resolve some of the contentious issues. This is why we are now considering our next move,’’ said Oparanya.

He added that the dilly-dallying on the part of the government, was eating into the tight timelines they had set for the conclusion of the bipartisan talks. The joint committee overseeing the talks has a 60-day window to complete its task and forward to President William Ruto and Raila.

Talks ultimatum

Azimio had initially given a 30-day period but Kenya Kwanza demanded 90 days, leading to the 60-day compromise timeline. The Opposition has threatened to institute unspecified measures if the government does not withdraw the controversial Finance Bill, 2023 in toto to address high cost of living. Yesterday, Oparanya said they were likely to consider more radical decisions in today’s meeting.

“We have been called for the urgent meeting in Nairobi and I am travelling from Kakamega to go and join the team on Monday,” said Oparanya.

National Assembly Minority leader Opiyo Wandayi had at the weekend while officiating an ODM function in Oyugis, Homa Bay county declared that opposition MPs would vote against the controversial bill.

 “We are going to shoot down the Bill or go to court or resort to mass action if the government proves adamant to our demands,’’ warned Wandayi.

Controversial Bill

 Speaking separately, Democratic Action Party (DAP) party leader Eugene Wamalwa signaled the return of anti-government protests if the controversial bill is not reviewed. The former Defence Cabinet Secretary charged that the proposals in the bill will overburden Kenyans and urged the MPs not to pass it in its current form.

Addressing hundreds of Azimio supporters at the homecoming ceremony of Budalang’i MP Raphael Wanjala yesterday, Wamalwa maintained that the opposition will mount pressure on the Kenya Kwanza administration to withdraw the Bill or face the wrath of the masses.

“The proposals in the Finance Bill 2023 are against the law and will hurt Kenyans who are already overburdened by heavy taxes. The proposed 16 per cent VAT on fuel products will make life terrible to Kenyans,” said Wamalwa.

He went on: “If they will not solve the VAT issue and other things hurting Kenyans, we will build pressure on them until they comply.”

Dollar a day

Speaking last week, Raila said it was unfair for President William Ruto to impose punitive taxes on already overtaxed Kenyans, majority of whom he said live on less than a dollar a day.

Speaking at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation Headquarters in Nairobi, he accused Ruto of re-introducing dictatorship in the country, which he said, will not go down well with the oppressed majority.

He said the Kenya Kwanza administration had in only eight months reneged on their campaign promises and instead resorted to wanton theft of public funds.

“They made a million promises to the people, none of those promises has been implemented and there is no indication that they will execute them,” said Raila.

On Saturday, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua clashed with a section of Azimio leaders over their criticism of the Bill, adding that even if they opposed it, the Bill will pass with or without their support.

More on Inside Politics