CORD rejects planned review of elections law

FORD Kenya leader Moses Wetang'ula addresses a crowd at Kemera trading centre in Kitutu Masaba yesterday. CORD has threatened to return to the streets to press for implementation of electoral reforms agreed by a joint parliamentary committee. (PHOTO: SAMMY OMINGO/ STANDARD)

The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) has threatened to return to the streets to press for implementation of electoral reforms agreed by a joint parliamentary committee.

The threat by co-chair of the CORD Management Committee James Orengo, who is also the Siaya Senator, comes at a time when there is growing division between the two rival political coalitions.

At the heart of the difference between CORD and Jubilee is the delay in hiring of the new commissioners and a single verifiable register which captures biometric features of voters to help eliminate ghost voters.

CORD insists on an electronic system of voting and transmission of election as the technology called the integrated election management system as contained in the Election Laws amendment Act.

The Opposition has also criticised a move by IEBC secretariat to award a tender for supply of election management system, arguing it is not in tandem with the new election law.

Yesterday, Orengo accused Jubilee of executing a political assault aimed at stifling a free and fair election next year.

"Jubilee, which was chest thumping about their digital capabilities, are now championing a manual way of voting knowing that it will be difficult to manipulate an electronic system," Orengo said.

Orengo, who was the joint chair of the electoral reforms committee alongside his Meru counterpart Kiraitu Murungi, said "we cannot allow the ruling coalition to get away from the stipulated framework that guarantees a free and fair election on August 8, next year."

And today, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party will hold a special parliamentary group meeting to strategise on how to tackle the proposed amendments by Jubilee when the National Assembly resumes tomorrow.

According to the party's director of elections Junet Mohamed, the MPs will met at 2:30pm to plan how to deal with the planned amendments, which he described as an affront to the electoral process.

Jubilee is proposing to change the law to allow for use of manual system should the integrated electronic system fail.

"Why should Kenyans invest over Sh10 billion and the Government still anticipates failure of the system. This is what happened in 2013 even after biometric voter registration kits were purchased," said Junet. 

At the same time  ODM's Secretary General Agnes Zani, the party's chairman John Mbadi (Suba), Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja), Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda), Abdikadir Aden (Balambala) and Eseli Simiyu (Tongaren) said that any move to amend the law will be resisted.

Dr Zani argued that changing the law is pre-empting that the electoral technology will fail and questioned why the electoral agency cannot find a fully integrated system that will not fail.

Simiyu, the Ford Kenya Secretary General, questioned why a government, formed in this digital age, is afraid of using technology for the 2017 elections.