Reflecting on an otherwise eventful year in which he lost the opportunity to become Kenya’s fifth President, opposition leader Raila Odinga presented a fresh set of demands that may define 2023 politics.
Speaking to Citizen TV on Tuesday, Raila demanded an audit of the 2022 presidential election, and a referendum to be held to fix issues that have emerged since 2010.
In his demand for an election audit, Raila said the polls were not to serve his end of being president, but the end of Kenyans to get the leaders they wanted and voted for.
“I’m not bitter because the elections are not for Raila Odinga. They are for Kenyans. What we’re saying is that we want an audit of these results so that Kenyans can have confidence come 2027,” said Raila.
He said President William Ruto was performing below expectations and absolved former President Uhuru Kenyatta of blame over his loss in the August 9 General Election.
Raila said he is not overly concerned by leaders leaving the opposition coalition. He, at the same time, said Azimio will initiate a participatory constitutional review.
“We’ll come up with a constituents’ assembly which will do a review because this Constitution is now 12 years old and requires a review because now know where the shoe is pinching,” he said.
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Raila claimed Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati announced the winner of the presidential election from manipulated results. “It is unfortunate that he (Chebukati) divided the commission and then decided to unilaterally go ahead and gazette himself as the returning officer of the presidential elections and declare results which only he knew where he got them from,” he said.
He said this “blatant rigging of elections” was confirmed by the Supreme Court and continued in Parliament with the petitions against IEBC commissioners Juliana Cherera, Irene Masit, Justus Nyang’aya and Francis Wanderi.
Cherera, Nyang’aya and Wanderi have since resigned while Masit is facing a tribunal. Raila insisted Chebukati should be prosecuted and sentenced to jail because he committed a crime against humanity against the people of Kenya.
“I believe very strongly that he, not the other four commissioners, should be on the dock,” he said.
Raila also addressed claims by some Azimio members who suggested that he lost because of uncoordinated and disorganised campaigns.
He absolved former President Kenyatta from blame over Azimio defeat at the ballot saying he was never meant to campaign for him. “He only said he stood by me and will support me because of my track record, but he was not going to campaign for me,” said the Azimio leader. “Uhuru was not supposed to campaign for me. I am a politician in my own right and I am capable of campaigning and winning elections and Uhuru knows it,” he added. Raila further said claims that Azimio did not have agents, or that they were not paid, did not mean that the election deserved to be stolen. He maintained that if the elections were indeed free and fair and the electoral agency did its job, candidates wouldn’t need to have agents.
“This whole idea that if a candidate does not have agents then his votes are stolen is a crime against the people of this country. You do not need to have agents. Why should you have to pay agents for all 46,239 polling stations? It is a misnomer,” the Azimio leader said.
“The commission failed Kenyans and will continue to fail Kenyans so the blame should be directed where it belongs. Our votes were stolen at the tallying center, not at the polling stations,” he added.
Raila claimed the Supreme Court handled the election petition challenging Ruto’s win casually and was biased against him.
“That’s why we are talking about an audit of this electoral process starting at the polling station, all the way to the constituency to the National Tallying Centre, IEBC, and to the Supreme Court to have a complete audit and come up with proper facts,” he noted. Raila said the tribunal formed to probe the commissioners is illegal. He said it was rushed through Parliament and the commissioners had already been condemned before the process started.
“The matter was forced through Parliament and passed quickly by a House which had really been cowed. The following day, the President appointed the tribunal, and the same day the Chief Justice was there to swear in members. This is a conspiracy. The Parliament, the Executive, and the Judiciary all acting in cahoots,” he claimed.
“They knew that it is a charade and that they could expect no justice before the tribunal,” Raila said about the four commissioners resigning.
The Azimio leader said the proposal to reintroduce the office of the leader of the official opposition was straight off the BBI which Ruto had opposed, but was now attempting to bring back through the backdoor.
“The question of reintroducing the office of leader of official opposition, or allowing Cabinet Secretaries to answer MPs questions in Parliament needed to be answered by the people,” he said.
“You cannot do it through the back door. Very, very fundamental alteration of the Constitution must go to the people. We are not going to be enticed because I’m going to be given an office in Parliament, and we cannot be compromised or bribed, to circumvent the constitutional provisions just to satisfy certain interests,” he added.