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CORD calls off protests to allow Senate debate on disputed laws

By Graham Kajilwa | Published Fri, December 30th 2016 at 00:00, Updated December 29th 2016 at 22:29 GMT +3
Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula and Siaya Senator James Orengo when they addressed journalists on the controversial Elections Laws (Amendment) Act in Nairobi yesterday. [PHOTO: EDWARD KIPLIMO/STANDARD]

The Opposition has called off demonstrations against electoral laws to give the Senate time to chart the way forward.

After a six-hour debate on Wednesday, Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro directed the Legal Affairs Committee to collect views on the proposed changes from Kenyans before submitting a report by January 4 when the senate will be convened. CORD was to start the protests on the same  day.

CORD will meet on January 5, 2017 to discuss the Senate's decision. Depending on the Senate's decision, this meeting will either resolve to hold protests or support the senators.

"We have agreed to withhold the demos slated for January 4, 2017 so that we give the Senate ample time to discuss the matter and see the outcome," Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka said.

He added: "on January 5... we shall let the country know of the next appropriate move."

Welcoming Mr Ethuro's ruling, Kalonzo said such contentious issues cannot be left to a single House of Parliament.

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"We do not want a case like that of 2013 of dead voters coming back to life to cast the ballot then return to their graves. Or children being given identity cards and registered as voters. It is now that we see the importance of having two levels of the national assembly," he said.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula said it had become a trend that every time elections approach there must be a heated debate over it.

"Kriegler's commission detected 1.2 million dead voters but they could even be more. We need a clear restructuring of voters' audit so that ghosts and juveniles are nowhere near the ballots," he said.

Mr Wetangul'a said all CORD was pushing for is an electoral agency that will give Kenyans value for their votes to facilitate a free and fair election.

Among the proposed changes allowing the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission to use manual voter identification if the electronic one fails, a decision that has been strongly defended by Information Communication Technology Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru.

But Siaya Senator James Orengo has opposed the move, saying: "So even if there should be a back-up as argued, the back-up itself should be electronic also."

He added: "Laws must be definite, predictable and with a certain degree of stability. We do not want laws which change with every emerging issue."

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