Kenya: Odinga Threatens Fresh Demos Over Stalled Bi-Partisan Talks

Nairobi — Opposition leader Odinga has threatened fresh mass action if bi-partisan talks will not have started by Wednesday.

Odinga said his coalition-Azimio la Umoja-had ceded ground and agreed to resume talks after Kenya Kwanza replaced Aden Keynan on their side with Saku MP Dido Rasso.

“We have given them today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday)…the talks must start in earnest by Wednesday….if they don’t start we will treat that gentleman’s agreement as canceled,” Odinga told a news conference.

He accused President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza ruling coalition of failing to give the talks the seriousness they deserve.

“We acted in good faith to call off the demonstrations after Kenya Kwanza had approached us and said they were ready for the talks,” he said, “We knew that the real reason was that visitors were coming and they didn’t want demonstrations in town.”

Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition had planned to hold another demonstration on Thursday last week, but said in a statement its leadership had agreed to suspend the action.

President Ruto’s government had called for bipartisan talks to try to resolve the crisis, but the process was stalled because of several disputes.

Azimio said it had summoned its negotiating delegation to discuss “further engagement” with Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza (Kenya First) alliance.

“We also wish to reiterate that we will not hesitate to resume mass action at the slightest indication of lack of good will and honesty on Kenya Kwanza side,” Azimio said last week.

Sporadic violence had erupted on Tuesday last week, with police firing tear gas on opposition MPs while the government accused gangs “masquerading as political protesters” of looting, arson and other criminal acts.

In March, three people were killed when the protests turned violent, triggering international calls for restraint.

Odinga’s supporters have staged several protests since March over claims last year’s presidential vote was rigged but also over what he says is the government’s failure to tackle the soaring cost of living.

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