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Raila Odinga tells IEBC chief Issack Hassan he has no faith in electoral body

POLITICS
By Geoffrey Mosoku | July 17th 2015
From left: CORD leader Raila Odinga, IEBC Chairman Issack Hassan and Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama during a meeting at the former premier’s Capitol Hill office in Nairobi, Thursday. [PHOTO: ANNE KAMONI/STANDARD]

NAIROBI: The Opposition has no faith in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), CORD leader Raila Odinga has told the team’s chairperson Issack Hassan.

Raila told Hassan last week’s decision by IEBC to launch the road map for the next elections, after ignoring the Opposition’s appeal to postpone it, was in bad faith.

“The burden is on IEBC to prove to the Opposition that it can be trusted to run a transparent and credible election in 2017. CORD remains extremely distrustful of IEBC,” said a statement released by the Opposition after talks at Raila’s office in Capitol Hill Square. The 2013 presidential election, over which Raila unsuccessfully contested President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory at the Supreme Court, dominated Thursday's discussions. Raila blamed Hassan and his team for "mismanaging the poll".

In what was described as a candid one-on-one, Raila and his team, which included senators Moses Wetang'ula and Johnstone Muthama, ODM Secretary General Ababu Namwamba and the ODM Executive Director Oduor Ongwen, told Hassan they do not trust IEBC.

Raila asked Hassan to explain the IT infrastructure collapse during the 2013 general election.

The former premier has been on record demanding IEBC's overhaul, saying the current team could not be trusted to manage the 2017 polls, with the Opposition threatening to boycott them unless fundamental changes are made.

CORD, in particular, asked Hassan to explain how he would be a neutral referee, having sworn an affidavit during the 2013 Supreme Court petition describing him as a "perennial election loser who never accepts defeat".

The IEBC boss defended himself, saying due to the time constraints, his lawyer Ahmednassir Abdullahi had written the affidavit and he did not have enough time to go through it.

The meeting took place at the request of IEBC as a follow-up to a similar one about two weeks ago that preceded IEBC's Strategic Plan launch. CORD also wanted to know why IEBC had left the registration of diaspora voters in the hands of the Foreign Affairs ministry.

Discussions also focused on the rift that has widened between IEBC and CORD following the launch of the strategic plan, according to the statement sent by Raila's spokesman Dennis Onyango. Mr Onyango said CORD asked the IEBC boss to explain alleged involvement of the Provincial Administration and the National Intelligence Service (NIS) in the voting process.

"The leaders questioned why a fibre optic line was created to link IEBC to NIS," Onyango said.

Hassan assured the Opposition the IEBC was determined to address all the concerns before the next election. "He explained the road map to the launch of the Strategic Plan and IEBC's intention to use its own Post-Election Evaluation Report to inform how it approaches the next election. The two parties agreed to leave doors open for consultations."

NOT CONSULTED

After the meeting, Hassan left for his office where he met representatives from a faction of the Political Parties' Liaison Committee led by nominated Senator Elizabeth Ongoro (chairperson) and Daniel Taabu (secretary general).

The more than two-and-a-half hour meeting was also attended by Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba and commissioners Yusuf Nzibo, Kule Galma and Abdullahi Sharawe.

And by last evening, the IEBC boss was meeting TNA Chairman Johnson Sakaja at the Serena Hotel in his latest shuttle diplomacy to have political parties embrace his team's five-year strategic plan launched amid cries from the parties that they were not consulted.

Sakaja reiterated Jubilee's position that the country needs a strong and independent electoral management body "that will not pander to the whims of any political party".

He said IEBC should be confident in the execution of its mandate and should be inclusive in all its processes. "With respect to IEBC's strategic plan, he noted that receiving input from political parties was welcome but IEBC should not seek validation of its plan from political parties as this would raise questions on whether the input of one coalition is adopted at the expense of another," said a statement released by TNA.

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