Cost of living: Azimio distances itself from Kenya Kwanza’s ‘one-sided statement’ on fresh talks
The Azimio la Umoja - One Kenya coalition has denied claims that the opposition has dropped its demands on the cost of living in fresh talks with the Kenya Kwanza government.
This is after National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung'wah released what he termed as a joint statement detailing five issues the two sides had agreed to focus on during talks set to be facilitated by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The issues are reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), implementation of two-thirds gender rule, entrenchment of Constituency Development Fund (CDF), establishment and entrenchment of the Office of the Leader of the Opposition and embedment of the office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary.
Ichung'wah further noted that the Finance Act 2023, whose enactment largely contributed to the opposition calling for mass action to protest against the high cost of living, would not form part of the discussions.
The Kikuyu MP said the matter is under judicial consideration and therefore prohibited from public discussion.
“The parties agreed that the Finance Bill is sub judice and should be decided in court. Given the foregoing, we take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to this agreement and the people of Kenya,” the statement read in part.
Following a public uproar, especially from a section of Azimio leaders and their supporters, the opposition has distanced itself from the statement, insisting that it was not signed by National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi.
In a statement, Azimio said the coalition was yet to table its substantive issues.
"Azimio La Umoja Coalition party (AZIMIO) has taken note of the one-sided statement released by the majority leader of the National Assembly on behalf of the Kenya Kwanza (KK) regime. It should be noted that in our statement that was realesed before KK's, AZIMIO is yet to table its substantive issues," the statement reads in part.
The coalition maintained that the high cost of living, occasioned by punitive taxes, remains top on its agenda ahead of the mediation talks.
"The Coalition reiterates its foundational principles and values of always placing the interests of the people at the center of any political conversation. As Azimio, we reaffirm that our four-point agenda remains the same; Cost of living, Electoral audit and reforms, Non-interference in coalitions and their constituent parties and finally accountability and probe into police brutality that has claimed dozens of innocent lives," the coalition added.
"Cognizant of the crisis of living bedeviling the nation with many Kenyans under the pump, our coalition cannot at the very least even countanance a conversation involving establishment of positions not contemplated by our constitution. We owe it to Kenyans to engage honestly, transparently and guided by utmost good faith to find lasting solutions to the crisis in the country."
Earlier, Wandayi confirmed that the two sides had agreed to form a 10-member committee to steer the talks, five members from each side.
The committee will include four members from outside Parliament, two from each side, leaders of the Majority and Minority from the National Assembly and four additional Members of Parliament - two from each side.
“We, the leadership of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party, having consulted with the leadership of Kenya Kwanza under the facilitation of Olusegun Obasanjo on the state of our nation, desirous of a democratic and peaceful resolution of issues that beset our nation..." Azimio said in a statement.
"...expressing our condemnation and regret on the violence that has visited our nation with loss of life, serious injuries and the destruction of property, affirming our commitment to adherence to the constitution and the rule of law, determined to resolve our differences amicably for the benefit of all our people, we have therefore agreed with Kenya Kwanza to establish a committee of ten (10), composed of five members each from Azimio La Umoja and Kenya Kwanza."