A letter by the electoral agency ruling out any further talks on the Okoa Kenya referendum initiative prompted the Opposition’s threat to storm its offices.
In a letter dated April 15, Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) chairman Issack Hassan wrote that the chapter of engagement with CORD on the collapsed referendum push was closed and they were now planning the 2017 General Election.
“The commission wishes to advise that according to its interpretation of the law, the process of verification of signatures for the Okoa Kenya initiative was finalised when the commission issued its findings on March 26, 2016,” reads part of Hassan’s letter addressed to Okoa Kenya Committee of Experts chairman Paul Mwangi.
The letter further states: “The commission is of the view that your technical team may meet ours on an agreeable date that could be earlier than April 25, 2016.”
“In the spirit of openness and in accordance with the Elections Operations Plan, the commission plans to have a separate engagement with the CORD principals to address any concerns that they might have with respect to the 2017 General Election preparations... We will be doing the same with all the other political players,” it says.
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But Mr Mwangi accused Hassan of reneging on an earlier agreement for a meeting with the Okoa Kenya team and CORD principals.
“We wrote to them seeking a meeting with the commission over the signatures. Instead of the commission calling us and giving us the results, it decided to do that through the media. We would appreciate to know where we were wrong,” said Mwangi.
He said IEBC breached the protocol of the engagement, adding that the manner in which the commission had treated CORD’s team raised more questions.
“They want our junior officers to meet their junior officers over this matter. We did not present our petition through the media nor did we send our junior officers,” added Mwangi.
But Commissioner Thomas Letangule denied claims that they had refused to meet the Okoa Kenya and CORD principals to address their concerns. Mr Letangule explained that IEBC is funded by taxpayers money and cannot close doors on any stakeholder who wants issues addressed, adding that threat to storm their offices was a security concern.
The commissioner said they had been pushed to the wall and were now contemplating publishing the names of the double signatories of the ‘Okoa Kenya’ booklets.
He said those who signed twice committed an electoral offence and should be prosecuted.
CORD had earlier sought a review of the 300,000 Okoa Kenya signatures rejected by the electoral commission.
The Opposition wanted the number added to the 891,598 legitimate signatures so as to allow the referendum campaign go to the next stage – the counties – for approval. CORD leaders have indicated that they will stage a sit-in, which they called ‘Occupy IEBC’ at the electoral commission’s office at Anniversary Towers.
The sit-in will be preceded by a political rally at Kamukunji grounds on Saturday where they will spell out the rules of engagement with IEBC going forward.
CORD had threatened to hold a one-million-man march to the commission’s offices to prove that they have a million people behind their quest to amend the Constitution. The march, they said, would be staged if IEBC failed to consider the signatures.