Kenyan political figures Martha Karua, leader of the Narc-Kenya party, and Jeremiah Kioni, Secretary-General of the Jubilee Party, have introduced a new political entity known as the Kamwene Leadership Forum. This development has prompted discussions about potential divisions within the opposition.
The Kamwene Leadership Forum, dedicated to advancing the interests of the Mt. Kenya region, gained attention following Azimio la Umoja One Kenya’s failure to nominate a member from this populous region to the National Dialogue Committee.
Ms. Karua clarified that Kamwene provides a platform for leaders from Mt. Kenya to voice their concerns. She emphasized that this initiative does not indicate their absence from Azimio. “It does not mean we are not in Azimio; if we weren’t, we would say it without beating around the bush. You saw us speak as Azimio, today we are here speaking as Kamwene, tomorrow I will speak as Narc-Kenya; all these are spaces we occupy,” she stated.
Presenting their assessment of President William Ruto’s first year in office at the Jubilee Party headquarters, Ms. Karua and Mr. Kioni identified themselves as members of the Kamwene Leadership Forum. This move raised questions about divisions within the opposition, even though their evaluation of the Ruto administration largely aligned with Azimio’s stance.
Mr. Kioni expressed, “This is Kamwene Leadership Forum, a group of people who are not in Kenya Kwanza, neither are they in Azimio, but are pushing the interests of the Mountain,” despite their assessment aligning with Azimio’s.
Ms. Karua criticized the Kenya Kwanza regime, describing it as “illegitimate, clueless, and insensitive.”
The decision by the Kamwene team to hold a press briefing on matters already addressed by Azimio within 72 hours has sparked questions about potential disagreements within the opposition regarding ongoing negotiations.
A source within Azimio suggested that these differences may have emerged during a recent crisis meeting convened by Mr. Odinga.
During the meeting, some senior opposition officials proposed suspending talks to protest the government’s fuel price increase. Others argued that President Ruto had not committed to certain agenda items after meeting with ODM rebel MPs.
Among the discussion topics for the 10-member dialogue committee are the cost of living and interference with political parties by the ruling party.
The source explained, “It was, therefore, a feeling that so that we don’t make the people feel abandoned, we should suspend the talks until Kenya Kwanza reduces the new fuel prices. That way, the people would see that we are still with them.”
Reportedly, Ms. Karua and Mr. Kioni supported these sentiments but were overruled by Mr. Odinga and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka.
Following the crisis meeting, Mr. Odinga had promised a major announcement regarding the talks, which was subsequently postponed, with Mr. Odinga only mentioning the 10 million signatures collected by the coalition.
The source disclosed, “Generally, the mood of the leaders during the meeting was that of betrayal. Within Azimio, there is that feeling that this team (Kenya Kwanza) is taking us for a ride.”
Mr. Kioni, on Tuesday, expressed his belief that if he were in Mr. Odinga’s position, he would have already withdrawn from the talks. Nevertheless, he affirmed his support for Mr. Odinga’s decisions, stating, “We are going nowhere with these talks, but we are in support of Baba and the decision he has taken.”