Azimio calls off protests after Keynan quits talks

Thursday, May 4th, 2023 06:50 | By
Kenya Kwanza leaders (from left) Kimani Ichung’wah, Aden Keynan and Boni Khalwale address a press conference on status of bipartisan talks. PD/kenna claude

The Azimio la Umoja leadership yesterday called off street demonstrations slated for today to allow bipartisan talks to resume.

In a statement signed by Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, the coalition however demanded that the Kenya Kwanza coalition replaces Eldas MP Adan Keynan before the talks restart.

In a quick response, Kenya Kwanza announced that it had replaced Keynan with his Saku counterpart Dido Rasso.

Parliamentary bipartisan talks were yesterday facing headwinds after the two sides issued differing statements on the resumption of the process.

In his statement, Kalonzo said Azimio  was prepared to stand down the demonstration scheduled for today provided Kenya Kwanza recused Keynan from the joint committee. “We in Azimio la Umoja announce, on a-without-prejudice basis, that we are prepared to go back to the bipartisan talks with Kenya Kwanza,” read the statement.

Street demonstrations

Kalonzo said the offer was the same as the one he gave on Sunday at the Cathedral of Praise Ministries and that all other conditions remain the same.

Later in the evening, the Kenya Kwanza side led by majority leader Kimani Ichung’wah welcomed the statement by their Azimio counterparts and that the team appreciates the conciliatory route taken by their colleagues to engage in talks and stand down the planned street demonstrations should they recuse Keynan.

“As we have always stated, we are willing to bend backward for the sake of the progress of the country, national unity and stability of the nation,” read the statement.

Ichung’wah said they had consulted with Keynan and the coalition’s top leadership and he had graciously agreed in the greater interest of the country to recuse himself from the joint committee.

Keynan said he agreed to step down in the interest of the country and that he did not want the Opposition to use him as a scapegoat in the whole matter. “The interest of the country comes ahead of anything else; I don’t want to look as if  I am the impediment to the process and therefore accept to step down and allow the talks to take shape. I however promise to actively participate in the debate when the committee brings a report for approval,” Keynan said.

The Co-Chairs of the two sides, George Murugara of Kenya Kwanza and Otiende Amollo for Azimio la Umoja had on Tuesday declared the talks as stalled due to the issue of representation.

While Murugara maintained that the Kenya Kwanza will only resume the talks once their colleagues denounce street protests and concentrate on the latter, Amollo said that his side will only restart the talks after Keynan is removed from the membership of Kenya Kwanza team.

Yesterday, Murugara said he will be consulting with his co-chair to decide the way forward now that the Azimio side has dropped the demonstration threat. “We had an issue with Azimio, they want talks and demonstrations, there can’t be both, we either talk or they demonstrate, we call on them to resume the talks,” Murugara said.

The 14-member committee was to resume talks on Tuesday but failed to take off following the standoff between the two sides.

 Murugara who is the MP for Tharaka accused the Azimio side for acting in bad faith for calling street protests amid bipartisan talks.

Amollo who is also the MP for Rarienda termed it as insincere for the Kenya kwanza coalition to have included Keynan in the team. “Our position has been clear, it was clear last week, it’s clear even now, remove Hon Keynan from the committee and we will resume the talks even now,” Otiende reiterated.

 Otiende also dismissed demands that the opposition call off the street demonstrations before the talks can resume.

‘’They are bringing up the issue of demonstrations, that has never been an agenda of the committee. We have no powers to call for or call off demonstrations, it’s a constitutional right and unless they amend the law we remain within the law,” said Amollo.

On the halting of demonstrations, Amollo said, “That can be dealt with at the level of the constitution and the principals, so it is in bad faith to insist that we call them off.”

Senate majority whip Boni Khalwale who is a member of the bipartisan committee urged Azimio team to abandon the demonstrations and resume talks.

‘’Whether they like it or not, they can go for demos today, they can go for demos tomorrow and every other day, but sanity will not be brought back by demos, but by talks,” said Khalwale.

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