Raila Odinga insists IEBC bosses biased and must leave now

CORD co-principal Raila Odinga (right) arrives at the home of Kajiado Central MP Memusi Kanchori (left) for a thanksgiving ceremony. Raila has sustained pressure on IEBC commissioners to quit. [Photo: PETERSON GITHAIGA/Standard]

Opposition chief Raila Odinga has insisted that electoral commissioners must go home as CORD today resumes protests against polls agency.

Mr Raila maintained that the commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) lacked the impartiality to referee an electoral contest between the Opposition and Jubilee.

He said the Opposition believed that the commissioners could no longer hide their disdain for CORD.

“The question is not whether IEBC is independent or not. The question is whether the current commissioners...can be impartial in an electoral contest in which CORD is a contestant,” Raila said.

The CORD leader insisted that IEBC Chairman Issack Hassan’s personal attacks on his character during the 2013 presidential petition exposed his bias.

“It is high time we called a spade a spade as we deconstruct the issues that define the petitioner’s well-known pattern of refusing to concede defeats. The petitioner has never conceded or accepted the will of the people as expressed in the outcome of the 1997, 2007 and now the 2013 general election,” Raila quoted Hassan’s replying affidavit to the Supreme Court.

“If I ever were the CORD candidate, the question is whether Issack Hassan can be an impartial referee in a presidential election in which I am running,” Raila wrote in an opinion piece published elsewhere in this newspaper.

Raila argued that IEBC’s independence had been violated.

“In respect of IEBC, the question is not whether they are independent. The question is whether their independence has secured the critical objective we set off to achieve in their actions and their decision making; impartiality,” he said.

The Opposition, which launched the ‘Firimbi Movement’, vowed that ‘peaceful protests’ to force IEBC commissioners out of office would go on today.

Yesterday, CORD argued that peaceful demonstration, picketing and assembly were fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution, which no court could place an injunction. Led by ‘Firimbi Movement’ leader John Mbadi (Suba), Opposition legislators warned the Jubilee administration against the use of teargas during peaceful protests.

Mr Mbadi said no amount of intimidation would cow the Opposition in their quest to disband the polls agency.

Civil Protest

“Court or no court, the protest is on. No one can block a civil protest. You cannot place an injunction on a right that is expressed in the Constitution,” he said.

He went on: “We want to reaffirm to Kenyans that we intend to return to Anniversary Towers to seek audience with the IEBC commissioners on the need for them to leave office in the interest of the nation.”

Mbadi, who is also the ODM chairman, said that as members of the ‘Firimbi Movement’, they would visit IEBC field offices on the same day “to persuade the commission to give way for a more credible alternative”.

And speaking in Nairobi at a press conference yesterday, Senator James Orengo (Siaya), and MPs Junet Mohammed (Suna East), Simba Arati (Dagoretti North), T.J Kajwang’ (Ruaraka), Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay) asked their supporters to turn up in large numbers in the protests that would start at 10am today.

The leaders said the anti-IEBC protests would be peaceful and asked their supporters to carry white handkerchiefs as a sign of peace.

Mr Mohammed said they were determined to create an electoral infrastructure that would ensure free, fair and credible elections.

Mr Orengo appealed to the country’s security forces to provide security to Kenyans who will participate in the protest. He, however, warned them to refrain from “actions that may ruin the peace” during the protests.

“We shall always abide by the Constitution that we fought so hard for. The security forces and the Government must facilitate our citizens to keep this noble pledge,” he said.

He said it would be a tragedy to deny Kenyans their rights to picket under the Constitution, adding that they have the blessing of the courts.

But National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale yesterday likened the Opposition protest to a constitutional coup, and challenged Raila to obey the rule of law.

“As Raila always purports to have brought the Constitution and change we enjoy today, if it is not serving his political interest and agenda, then what CORD is doing is a constitutional coup, disorder, anarchy,” Mr Duale said.