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ELECTION 2022

Between Jubilee and Cord, one is lying

COMMENTARY
By Vitalis Musebe | Jun 6th 2016 | 4 min read

Statements coming from both sides of the increasingly hostile political divide are firm, categorical but strikingly conflicting.

From the Opposition coalition came the news that a deal of sorts had been struck at a brief State House rendezvous that could see the dangerous and potentially bloody confrontation over the Opposition demand for the removal of the current commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

That was after the country was treated to a surprise high-profile photo session between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto on the one side and CORD leaders Raila Odinga and Moses Wetang’ula when the latter two visited State House on the eve of Madaraka Day.

Soon after the CORD duo left State House, Mr Wetangula, the senator for Bungoma County, went straight to the Senate session in Parliament where he declared to the hushed house that they had a fruitful discussion with the President and that one of the issues they had discussed was the IEBC.

CORD went further to indicate that an agreement had been reached to start dialogue with Jubilee on the thorny issue of the removal IEBC Commissioners. The Opposition intimated that the two sides had agreed to pick a five-member team from each side to handle the issue.

Matters took a completely different turn the following day when the President and his deputy made it clear that the matter of the IEBC had not featured during Raila and Wetangula’s State House visit.

The President went on to tell the country that any action targeting the removal of IEBC must be channelled through the legal and constitutional route.

Mr Ruto took a more confrontational stance, declaring boisterously that "those telling us that we should go back and have weighty public issues decided by a few people over a cup of tea in a tete-a-tete are taking us backwards".

But the President treaded more cautiously on the issue, stating that he was ready to support any petition on the IEBC that came through Parliament.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesman Manoah Esipisu told the nation in a statement that the IEBC matter never featured during the State House rendezvous between the President and the Opposition leaders.

So then why did Raila and Wetang'ula go to State House? Before heading to the house of power, Raila had told a funeral meeting in Narok that he had been called to State House to discuss important national issues among them the IEBC and went on to promise the crowd that he would communicate the outcome as soon as the meeting was over.

At State House, it was clear from the body language by the leaders that behind the veneer of smiles remained deep-rooted antagonism and mutual mistrust. That fact became clear when it emerged that CORD leaders had declined an invitation to join the President and his deputy at the Madaraka Day celebrations held in Nakuru on Wednesday, June 1.

Instead, the Opposition leaders secured State approval and security to hold their own separate rally at the famed Uhuru Park in Nairobi that had been firmly opposed by the Government.

As it turned out, the two meetings resembled campaign platforms, with each side using the occasion to lambaste the other.

More significantly, the two meetings spoke volumes about the increasing schism the country has been thrown into over the IEBC issue. The meetings seemed to overshadow the significance of the traditional Madaraka Day celebrations that served as a symbol of national unity.

Further, the two meetings served as springboards for renewal of political grandstanding that has seen the country on the brink over the pressure by the CORD coalition to push out the IEBC commissioners.

While CORD won the battle over the holding of its Uhuru Park meeting that left Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery with a red face, the overall scenario seemed to drive the country further down the road of uncertainly, with CORD renewing its commitment to return to the Monday protests that have become a source of serious confrontations with the gun, water cannon and tear gas-wielding riot police.

In all these, Uhuru, as the President of Kenya, not his Deputy or CORD leaders, remains the ultimate authority over the country and arbiter of national political conflicts and it behoves him to walk the tightrope of balancing the partisan interests of the party that took him to power and the wide interests of the country that he alone has the responsibility to manage taking into consideration the equally partisan interests of the Opposition.

He knows that he is the President of the Republic of Kenya and he will ultimately not blame it on the Opposition or anyone else if this country blows up in his face.

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