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Civil society calls for resumption of bipartisan talks to avert more protests

A group of 50 civil society organizations under the banner of Uchaguzi Platform is calling for the immediate resumption of the bipartisan talks between the Kenyan government and Azimio la Umoja – One Kenya Coalition to avert more anti-government protests.

The civil society organizations however want the bipartisan talks to have a multi-sectoral representation.

This comes in the wake of recent protests staged by various entities, including civil society organizations, members of the public, public transporters, and Azimio la Umoja to express grievances on issues such as the new tax regime, the high cost of living and electoral reforms in the c ountry.

Speaking during a press briefing, Shella Masinde, Executive Director, Transparency International Kenya said the the bipartisan talks gave Kenyans a glimmer of hope as it created a golden opportunity for issues affecting Kenyans to be deliberated and addressed.

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“We wish to emphasize the need for the talks to go beyond political interests and genuinely encompass the diverse concerns and aspirations of all Kenyan citizens. Only through inclusive dialogue can we address the root causes of discontent and pave the way for a more just and equitable society,” Ms Masinde said.

“Further, we call upon the country to have a discussion on the nature of electoral system, particularly, on the import of the First Past the Post given our experience of its since 2013,” she added.

Ms Masinde also called upon the authorities to respect and protect these fundamental rights, allowing peaceful demonstrations to take place without intimidation or undue restrictions. She said safeguarding human rights is not only a legal obligation but also a moral imperative that ensures the dignity and well-being of every citizen.

“We are appalled by the alarming incidents witnessed recently where some peaceful protesters, exercising their democratic right to picket, were met with unnecessary force and arbitrary and unlawful arrests by the National Police Service. It is disheartening to witness such actions in a country that prides itself on upholding the principles of human rights and freedom of speech, and which is sovereign by the Constitution in which the freedom of assembly and expression is enshrined,” she said.

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Franklin Mukwanja, Executive Director, Center for Multiparty Democracy called out the public officers reminding them of their oath to public office which requires to uphold high levels of ethics and integrity in their functions

“We demand that they understand and appreciate that their offices are held in trust on behalf of Kenyans and should they violate these ethical duties, we shall boldly and relentlessly call them out and take due action. Leaders should use their positions responsibly, promoting unity, understanding, and constructive dialogue rather than adding fuel to the flames of unrest,” Mr Mukwanja said.

It is vital for the nation’s stability and prosperity that leaders act as beacons of hope and reason. We also ask citizens to watch the conduct of their public representatives and assess their leadership values in promoting national unity and cohesion,” he added, while emphasizing the importance of a free and independent media in a democratic society.

“Journalists play a critical role in providing unbiased information to the public, and we call upon all parties to respect media freedom,” he said.

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