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Behind the scenes intrigues that informed Raila’s withdrawal from the presidential race

By Standard Team | Published Thu, October 12th 2017 at 00:00, Updated October 12th 2017 at 00:16 GMT +3
NASA leaders and supporters demonstrate along Haile Selassie Avenue in Nairobi on Wednesday demanding IEBC reforms. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

In summary

  • Opposition says a team of experts took three weeks to come to that conclusion
  • NASA says withdrawal is meant to forestall a bid by Jubilee to rig the presidential poll re-run

Opposition chief Raila Odinga’s decision to withdraw his candidature ahead of the October 26 polls was informed by Jubilee’s defiance in legislating new laws on the electoral process.

The National Super Alliance (NASA) leadership maintains that Raila’s move is meant to forestall Jubilee’s ploy to rig the repeat presidential polls by changing the ‘game’ midway.

They also affirmed that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declined to consider the irreducible minimum that would have ensured the polls are free, fair, credible, and verifiable.

“Despite the Jubilee leadership getting wind of the NASA presidential candidate’s decision to quit the race, we blocked them from enacting an illegal law to give President Uhuru Kenyatta the upper hand in the race,” said ODM Secretary General Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja).

He said the Opposition made wide consultations and arrived at the decision to abandon the race.

“We decided not to take part in an illegality. When we change the law halfway in the race and hold IEBC officials at ransom, there is no equal playing ground. We are convinced the battleground is not fair,” Wandayi reiterated.

The NASA leadership said it had explored various options and sealed all legal loopholes, saying Jubilee had staged a constitutional coup.

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“The purportedly ongoing process is irregular and unconstitutional. It is autocracy imported from State House. It is reversing constitutional gains,” said Minority Leader John Mbadi (Suba South).

Decision made

And when the decision was announced on Tuesday, only his supporters may have not known that Raila would distance himself from the race.

Insiders say the final decision was made after many consultations among Opposition principals and other party leaders.

“The four principals - Raila, his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi, and Moses Wetang’ula - have been meeting daily over the matter,” said a source familiar with NASA affairs.

He said the decision was arrived at after consultations with NASA experts, lawyers, the four party leaders, and elected leaders - governors, senators, MPs, and members of county assemblies.

Insiders pointed out that the Supreme Court ruling that nullified Uhuru’s re-election after the August 8 poll was the beginning of Raila’s withdrawal.

“Our lawyers reviewed the Supreme Court ruling delivered on September 1 and came up with the 11 demands now referred to as ‘irreducible minimums’ that we send to the electoral body to work on,” a source said.

Norman Magaya, the head of NASA’s secretariat, said lawyers had been tracking the electoral process and use of technology right from the time they were passed by Parliament after the Kiraitu Murungi and James Orengo-led process.

He said there was a team of 25 lawyers, political scientists, civil society, and electoral and governance experts who took three weeks to come to the conclusion that it was not tenable to participate in the repeat poll.

Reliably informed

Magaya told The Standard they had been reliably informed IEBC had become a mini-headquarter with nothing having changed to warrant them to participate in another election whose outcome was pre-determined.

And to come to that conclusion, the team picked the ‘devil’s advocate’ to poke holes in their possible scenarios of what would be the impact of the withdrawal from the race.

“We started analysing this process three weeks ago with a team of 25 prominent lawyers, political scientists, governance experts, and other resource personnel. We had a devil’s advocate team which kept mutating in each possible scenario,” said Magaya.

Another source said the Opposition demands were pegged on grounds on which the Supreme Court annulled the presidential results of August 8. 

The Constitution

He noted that one of the grounds was the poll was not conducted in accordance with the Constitution, which clearly stipulates how the votes cast should be recorded, counted, tallied, and announced.

In reference to the 2013 Supreme Court ruling, the legislators made it clear that even if all presidential contenders who took part in the August 8 polls participate, the process would be invalid.

“When candidates or a candidate who participated in the first election dies or abandons the process, there will be no election as per Article 138 (b) of the Constitution,” Nyando MP Jared Opiyo made reference to the apex court ruling in 2013.

“We made a smart move. Jubilee thought they can change the rules of the game halfway. We were prepared for our opponents,” he said.

Opiyo, Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Dan Maanzo (Makueni), Otiende Amollo, (Rarieda) and Sam Atandi said there would be no October 26 poll, as indicated by Raila.

“We can assure Kenyans we will not have elections in two weeks’ time. One candidate has pulled out,” said Mr Odhiambo.

“We need to have peaceful election in the 290 constituencies. If one constituency pulls out, we cannot purport to have had elections,” he added.

A day after Uhuru dared Raila to quit the race and allow the country to move forward, NASA MPs held a joint parliamentary group meeting at County Hall and resolved to pull out just hours before this was officially made public.

[Protus Onyango, Rawlings Otieno and Roseline Obala]

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