Nairobi, Kenya: CORD leader Raila Odinga optimistic of a free and fair General Election, says rigging polls will be too costly for Jubilee Government.
Below is the CORD leader’s full speech at the Bomas of Kenya.
Let me begin by thanking all of you for travelling from far and wide to attend this historic meeting.
We invited you here to discuss the most important element of our politics in the days ahead; the question of voting.
We are also here to emphasise that we are one Opposition team, with the common dream of liberating Kenyans from the yoke of Jubilee.
We have not convened to deploy for mass action as Jubilee had hoped. That remains on our radar but not in the next thirty days.
In a way therefore, today marks the beginning of the people of Kenya taking their destiny into their own hands in the final bid to preserve our nation.
This country was founded on a simple unwritten but binding principle that each generation shall rise to right the wrongs of its time. Some of our people have had to endure torture, detentions, assassinations and stints in exile to bring change to the nation.
For this generation, the challenge is to bring change through the ballot.
But we can only vote if we register. The last time the IEBC enlisted people before elections in 2013, it went all out to deny our people the chance to register by deploying fewer kits in perceived CORD areas than in Jubilee strongholds. Another final registration before elections begins in five days’ time.
We must respond in a way that is commensurate with the stakes at hand. If the last four years is anything to go by, the elections of 2017 will determine whether we remain a viable nation or we go the route of collapse that has stalked much of Africa. Kenya has been tested to the limit these last four years. It cannot stand another five years of Jubilee.
We have therefore gathered here because our country needs all of us to rise to the challenges that are known to all of us: unprecedented corruption, tribalism that has become official policy, politics that marginalizes communities, all time high unemployment, rising cost of living, insecurity, mounting debt and a regime bent on taking us to the past while stealing our future.
We are here to agree to stop Jubilee from ruining our country beyond August 2017. Defeating Jubilee in August is not about the Opposition taking power. It is a national duty and a civic responsibility to save Kenya.
We are here to make all of us understand that the only enemy we have and our country has, is Jubilee. Divided we shall fall and the country will continue to suffer. Only our unity shall salvage what remains of our country. We are here because we understand that simple and painful reality.
I urge you to follow in our steps and unite. Let us put Kenya first.
Infighting and friendly fires will not do. Supremacy battles will not work. Only a firm decision that Jubilee has to let go of our country and our people will work.
We will deal with election Laws - we promise you that - but YOU must all go out, in every town, village, home, church, school, bus stop every single day and not rest until everybody you meet is a registered voter to send a MASS MESSAGE to Jubilee that they must go home! It has to be done. It has been done elsewhere. It will be done here with your help and the backing of a united opposition.
There are at least four steps that we must execute meticulously to get Jubilee out of our lives. One, we must get all eligible voters to register. There are millions of Kenyans who subscribe to Opposition ideals and who are tired of Jubilee but are not registered as voters.
Two, we must get our people to take keen interest in the compilation of the voter register and have them inspect the register after registration. Ensuring that the register bears accurate details of all those registered is a duty all of us must take seriously before Election Day. Three, we must vote on Election Day. Four, we must protect the vote. It all begins with taking the first step, which is to register. On protection of the vote, we assure you that we will be u to the task. I wish to urge all Opposition supporters to discard the fears that Jubilee will steal the August elections. Yes Jubilee will try to steal the elections. But we shall not allow it. We shall make it impossible for anyone to steal the election. But we are also sending word to Jubilee again that the cost of stealing this election will be regrettable. Don’t try it.
On this election, in the words of Franklin Roosevelt: “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself.” We have learnt our lessons. We know we are not dealing with the finest of human beings. We are prepared to stop Jubilee on its tracks. Let us focus all our energy on registering our people.
We have identity cards waiting to be collected to enable our people to register. We must get them to their owners. Supporters with ID cards have to be made to come out and register as a matter of duty to the country.
We must monitor the exercise. Where there are impediments to registration like the absence kits and unnecessary registration requirements, these must be recorded and communicated in real time. Each day, we must register the maximum number possible. We must not allow the IEBC to get away with mischief.
We appeal to you to be our eyes and our ears on the ground on this exercise. We, in turn, shall continue to be your eyes and ears up here against Jubilee. But we also promise that you shall never walk alone in this exercise. As your leaders, we shall be visiting your areas to give you the push and the guidance that you may need.
We are tasking our youth to stand up for our country and our future. I am reminding our youth that we had a deal that they would move from market to market, house to house, church to church, and school to school to get every one of voting age to register. It is my hope the youth will keep the promise they made to me and enter their names into the annals of our country’s history.
I end by addressing an issue that I know is close to your hearts; the nomination exercise. We pledge to give everyone a fair chance to get the nomination for the positions you desire. The commitment runs across the Opposition. We will ensure the nomination exercise is free, fair and transparent. We are against fraud in the general election. We will not allow fraud in our nominations. But we must always see ourselves as members of one team. The enemy remains Jubilee.
Those who will win the nominations must be reminded that it would mark just the beginning of the main war. I know some people are fond of fighting for nomination certificates and then sitting back during the General Election. This election cannot be won without you. Those who will lose must equally know it won’t be the end of the road. We will need everyone who subscribe to our ideals and we will create space for you to help cause the change you were looking for. The time for change is now. Let us all go out and be agents of that change.