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Raila: I can swear by Bible on State House IEBC deal

By Standard Team | Jun 3rd 2016 | 4 min read
CORD leader Raila Odinga addresses mourners at Kirembe grounds in Kisumu during a requiem mass for three people who were shot dead during anti-IEBC demos last month. (PHOTO: DENISH OCHIENG/ STANDARD)

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has insisted that he made a deal with President Uhuru Kenyatta over IEBC talks.
Raila said during their four-man lunch-hour meeting on Tuesday at State House Nairobi, they agreed to form a team to try to end the stalemate on the electoral agency.

"I can swear by the Bible that we have done what we agreed with our competitors and ready for negotiations outside Parliament," said Raila yesterday.

One of the agreements with President Uhuru was the need to disband the electoral body and establish a new team. They also agreed to do this through a joint team consisting of five members each from CORD and Jubilee.

Even as State House insisted there was no such deal, CORD has named five people to the 10-member mediation team.

The Opposition has also given the Jubilee administration until Sunday to give a list of their members that will negotiate and decide the fate of the electoral commission.

CORD has named senators James Orengo (Siaya), Johnstone Muthama (Machakos), and MPs Eseli Simiyu (Tongaren), Mishi Mboko (Mombasa) and Abdikadir Aden (Balambala) to the mediation team. It has also named lawyer Paul Mwangi and Grace Katasi as joint secretaries.

 "Following the announcement CORD Principals at the Madaraka Day rally on the commitment of the coalition to national dialogue on various matters of national importance including reforms in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), and the promise to name a team of five to sit on the dialogue table, CORD has nominated members to represent it," said the statement sent to newsrooms.

But immediately after the statement was released, Mr Aden pulled out of the team, citing "personal reasons".

"Hi, just wanted to inform you that I have asked to be left out of the CORD negotiation team for personal reason," said a short text message that the Balambala MP circulated to media houses.

Raila said he was shocked that Deputy President William Ruto denounced the talks outside Parliament, saying they will only honour legitimised discussions that follow the rule of law

Bi-partisan talks

He wondered why Ruto and State House were trying to distance the Government from the bi-partisan talks held at State House.

Raila said he had reminded Ruto of how he successfully helped to broker peace in the Serena talks during the 2007 post-election violence.

The Opposition said they will be forced to go back to the streets on Monday if Jubilee does not name its team to mediate by Sunday.

Raila's vow that there was a deal came as Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang'ula told the Senate that the talks centred around getting a team to talk outside Parliament, only that it was "inconclusive".

"After the luncheon, my brother Raila and I met with the President and his deputy. On the table was the issue of how we can engage as the leadership of the country to address issues that are affecting the country including IEBC," said Wetangula.

He added: "We had good but inconclusive discussions to the extent that we agreed to meet and discuss further before we reach a level where we can put up teams possibly to look at the issues within the Constitution and other administrative structures that portend bottlenecks and hindrances to having a peaceful, cohesive country that can go to elections without disputes and many other things that may not be part of elections."

The President and his deputy are banking on the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee of the National Assembly to unlock the stalemate.

Yesterday, the committee Chairman Samuel Chepkonga said his team will begin public hearings on Friday next week.

The committee will carry out joint hearings with the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee, and it will split into five teams that will go to each of the 47 counties.

"I don't know about the talks at State House. What I know is that my committee and that of the Constitutional Implementation are working together and we will receive views from every Kenyan on how to reconstitute the IEBC in the event that the commissioners go home," said Mr Chepkonga in an interview with The Standard.

Majority Leader Aden Duale said the Jubilee leadership in the Senate and the National Assembly, and the Executive, through the Attorney General, will submit their views to the Chepkonga-led committee to make a "decision on the way forward."

"If CORD leaders are being honest, they should tell their supporters the truth. I was at State House... the story about a team of ten people is their own creation. Our position has not changed. Let everyone who has positions on electoral reforms channel them to the Legal Affairs Committee," said Mr Duale last evening shortly after a meeting with the President at State House.

Presidential Strategic Communication Unit Senior Director Munyori Buku maintained that the only issue that was discussed by the leaders was ensuring peaceful Madaraka Day celebrations.

"It was a meeting that lasted 10 minutes, at most. You do not expect that such a topic as IEBC could have been discussed within the short time and a resolution made, as being peddled by CORD," said Mr Buku.

Report by Kepher Otieno, Kevin Ogutu and Moses Njagih

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