CORD team divided over Saba Saba rally

Sabasaba Asili Rift Valley coordinator Jack Ndegwa addresses press with other members of the party in Nakuru Monday. [PHOTO: BONIFACE THUKU]

NAIROBI, KENYA: Divisions have rocked former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) over the planned July 7 Saba Saba rally in Nairobi.

The rally is meant to hit back at the Jubilee Government should it fail to convene a national dialogue conference andcoincides with the day in 1990 when the then Opposition clashed with the Kanu government in the push for multiparty democracy.

Governors Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Evans Kidero (Nairobi) and Tana River’s Hussein Dado have opposed calls for mass action, saying they would destabilise Kenya and disrupt business.

CORD-allied MPs Richard Onynka (Kitutu Chache South) Manson Nyamweya (South Mugirango), Joe Mutambu (Mwingi Central)Vincent Musyoka (Mwala MP) Ben Momanyi (Borabu MP), Gedion Munga’ro (Kilifi North MP) Halima Ware (County women representative), Abdulswamad Sharif (Mvita) and Senator Mongare Bwo'okongo said Saba Saba was not the solution to the country's problems.

Dr Mutua questioned the ultimate objective of the rally, saying he was speaking on behalf of the people of Ukambani. He wondered whether the aftermath of the Saba Saba rally would improve people's lives.

"As a person speaking on behalf of the people of Ukambani, except Machakos Senator Johnston Muthama, we are questioning the logic of these rallies and how the community will benefit from them," Mutua said.

The governor warned the Opposition against approaching calls for national dialogue with a mindset of preconditions in a manner dangerously depicting a false impression that the country is at war with itself.

"Inasmuch as CORD has political machinations, so has Jubilee. It is Kenyans who will suffer. Political rallies are not important at this moment when there are options that can be explored," he said.

Kidero also opposed calls for mass action, saying they will destabilise the economy by scaring away investors.

He said there are existing alternatives through which CORD can channel its proposals on how to solve insecurity, corruption and tribal appointments among the other issues.

"We should not be involved in activities that will affect the normal operations of the country," he said.

Dado said although Kenya is facing challenges that need to be addressed, calling for mass action might be a recipe for violence.

"We agree that there is urgent need for Jubilee leaders and the Opposition to dialogue in a bid to find solutions to the problems facing the country but calls for mass action are unnecessary," Dado said.

Without mentioning names, the Governor asked politicians to respect the President and desist from making disrespectful remarks. Onyonka also questioned the former Prime Minister's game plan after the Saba Saba rally.

"We are raising serious concerns about the ultimate game plan of the former Prime Minister. We shall go to Saba Saba. After that what do we do?" ODM's Onyonka asked, adding that Kenya is not ready for a repeat of what came to characterise Saba Saba in the 90s.

"Kenyans are suffering from political fatigue and are sick and tired of politics," he said.

Nyamweya said although there is genuine need for national dialogue, agitations for the talks should not be a recipe to polarise the nation any further.

"The President should listen to what his elder brother, Raila, is saying. We should not go back to Saba Saba when there are avenues to talk. Such must be done with absolute openness, civility and without chest-thumping," Nyamweya said.

Mutambu said Saba Saba is not the solution to the national challenges facing Kenya and wants CORD to call it off and seek peaceful avenues to iron out the issues beleaguering the country.

"CORD and Jubilee should appoint about 10 leaders each to come together and meet the President to solve the issues facing Kenyans. Calls for mass action will not solve the problems facing this country. We are a peace-loving nation and we must at all times maintain peace," he said.

Mwala MP Vincent Musyoka, castigated CORD for having ill intentions against the Jubilee Government.

"I have useful information on how CORD plans to overthrow Uhuru's Government, something which should be met with stiff resistance" he said.

He proposed that both CORD and Jubilee appoint representatives to deliberate on how to solve the issues being raised by the Opposition.

Momanyi said Saba Saba, which he claimed is characterised with violent activities, may be a recipe for chaos and urged the Government to embrace alternatives to avert ugly confrontation.

"While the rally may be a forum for CORD leaders to talk to their supporters and collect views on how to address national issues, mass action and demonstrations will only serve to stir chaos and anarchy in the country," the wiper legislator said.

Sharif said the Opposition had left Kenyans guessing what would happen after Saba Saba.

"No Kenyan can tell what will happen after the day. I am opposed to involvements that may spark chaos and slide the country to lawlessness. Ugly confrontations between the Opposition and Government ended with the advent of multiparty democracy. We want peace to prevail," he said.

Kilifi North MP Gedion Munga'ro, who is the National Assembly Minority Whip, was more diplomatic.

"CORD is raising genuine concerns that reflect the true face of the discontent among Kenyans and they should be listened to, but I think it will not be in the interest of Kenyans to tell them to go to the streets, which I hope none in CORD is doing," he said.

Funyula MP Paul Otuoma urged the President to soften his stance and embrace dialogue with Raila for the sake of unity.

Homa Bay Senator Otieno Kajwang' warned the Government not to over-deploy security personnel in CORD strongholds, saying it will cause unnecessary tension.

Nyamira Senator Kennedy Mong'are Okongo urged CORD to engage with the ruling coalition without pushing the country top the edge.