Why Raila team set to meet Chief Justice Mutunga, IEBC

CORD leader Raila Odinga (second right) looks on as co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka (second left) and Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale dance in Huruma, Narobi, Tuesday. This was during a campaign for ODM candidate Stephen Kariuki contesting the Mathare seat. [PHOTO: MBUGUA KIBERA/STANDARD]

The Opposition has opted to follow a carefully crafted legal road in its referendum bid by reaching out to the arms of Government critical to ensuring its success.

As Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) principal Raila Odinga campaigned for ODM candidate Steve Kariuki in Mathare Tuesday, it emerged that the Opposition‘s committee of experts on its referendum bid are Wednesday expected to meet Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

The four-member team chaired by the former prime minister‘s legal adviser Paul Mwangi, and which includes lawyer Kethi Kilonzo, former Labour Permanent Secretary Beatrice Kituyi and human rights activist Khelef Khalifa, will help CORD craft the referendum questions.

They said they would target over five million signatures from Kenyans to push for the referendum. Raila told off President Kenyatta over his remarks on Sunday when he toured Mathare Constituency to campaign for TNA and Jubilee candidate George Wanjohi, saying he accepted the ruling of the Supreme Court that upheld his election last year, but would not be restrained by it.

"Uhuru was here in Mathare and said that I disrespect him and that I should accept I was defeated in the last General Election. I want to tell Uhuru my brother that I respect you, but heshima si utumwa (respect is not slavery)," Raila told the mammoth crowd that turned up at the Masinde Muliro grounds in Huruma.

Raila said respecting the highest office in the land does not mean the Opposition cannot criticise the Government and correct its leaders when they go wrong in their policies.

"I respected the court ruling. That is now behind us. He (Uhuru) is the President in the ruling Government and we are the Opposition. We have a duty, not to support the Government, but to correct it and keep it in check," Raila said.

Using a Kiswahili analogy that "jogoo aliyefanikiwa kutawala mjini huwa hamtaki jogoo yeyote kumkaribia kuku katika boma", the former prime minister referred to himself as the Opposition cock that should be respected.

"He has his people in Government, but I am also the cock of the Opposition and I must be respected," he maintained.

He said the decision by the Government to decline dialogue with CORD was testimony of the disrespect the President has for the Opposition.

"Let them wait a little and they will see after we finish collecting the signatures.

"We said we wanted to dialogue with the Government over serious national issues facing the country, but all that the President could say was that he was ready to offer us a cup of tea at State House. That is disrespect for the Opposition," he said.

The former premier said it was on the basis of the Government's rejection of dialogue that they would seek to collect signatures for a referendum.

"I heard people say the change that we promised did not come to pass because they did not see the clouds forming. Let them know that it will be seen in the recent future. We will face off once we collect the signatures," he said.

The CORD principal said the Opposition would follow every step in the Constitution related to holding a referendum.

"We want five million signatures and Kenyans are not turning back. We shall follow the law to do what we want in due respect to the rule of law," Raila added.

Former Vice-President Kalonzo lashed out at the IEBC over claims that the planned referendum would cost taxpayers Sh8 billion.

"Who told them (IEBC) that the referendum will cost Sh8 billion. That is a testimony that IEBC is working for Jubilee and it is JEBC (Jubilee Electoral and Boundaries Commission)," said Kalonzo.

He sensationally claimed that about a million votes were stolen from Raila in favour of Uhuru in last year's elections.

"The referendum will restore the integrity of the vote. The Judiciary threw out over 900 pages of Raila's petition. That judgement of the Supreme Court cannot be quoted positively anywhere in the world," Kalonzo claimed.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula said the Head of State cannot demand respect.

"Uhuru wants respect. Let us tell him as CORD and patriotic Kenyans that you do not demand respect, but you earn it from the people. You cannot preside over corruption and tribalism. No one will respect you unless you deserve it," Wetang'ula reiterated.

He accused Uhuru and his deputy Ruto of taking Kenya backwards, but asked CORD Members of Parliament not to be tempted to sing the Jubilee tune, claiming the decision by the National Assembly's Public Investments Committee to approve the controversial Safaricom security tender was not above board.

"We tell CORD MPs to stand up to be counted. Let the majority get their way, but the minority must also have their say. We want to examine the tender to Safaricom and evaluate how it was awarded," the Bungoma senator said.