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Raila Odinga’s conditions for Uhuru Kenyatta on IEBC talks

By David Ohito | May 2nd 2016
Raila Odinga acknowledged the need for dialogue but maintained that the planned protests will go on from May 9 if consensus is not reached on the talks.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has set conditions for dialogue with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government over the electoral commission.

Raila said he was ready for dialogue on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) – whose commissioners the Opposition wants ousted and has planned public protests – only if it is structured.

In an interview with The Standard, the CORD leader demanded minimum electoral reforms, including reducing the number of IEBC commissioners and reviewing the reporting of presidential election results, for the Opposition to participate in next year’s General Election.

“IEBC must be lean and representative. We propose to reduce the number of commissioners from nine to seven or even six. It is a fallacy to assume commissioners have no political preferences. What needs to be done is to have such leanings declared and to ensure they represent party strengths in Parliament,” said Raila.

“We have proposed that the IEBC chair will not be a full fixed term but rotational every one to two years to guard against the chair imposing himself or herself on the rest of the commission by building clout. The commission will then operate and take decisions on a collegiate approach on plenary,” said Raila.

Raila set out what he called structured dialogue modelled along the Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group (IPPG) talks prior to the 1997 elections between then President Moi’s government and the Opposition.

Non-political actors

The ODM leader said the talks must include non-political actors such as civil society, trade unions and religious groups.

But Uhuru has told the Opposition he will not be party to plans to remove IEBC commissioners without following the prescribed constitutional procedure that requires a petition be submitted to Parliament, which will recommend a tribunal to investigate the claims, if necessary.

The President declared even if the Opposition demonstrates for a whole year, he will not condone or take part in any illegal action against the IEBC.

Sunday, Raila acknowledged the need for dialogue but maintained that the planned protests will go on from May 9 if consensus is not reached on the talks.

He said they postponed this week’s protests to show respect to the retired President Mwai Kibaki and his family following the demise of former First Lady Lucy Kibaki. Raila also demanded identity card applicants be issued with the documents within three months of application.

“Registration of voters is dependent on possession of ID cards. It is a right (to have an ID) and all eligible citizens should be registered for us to have credible elections,” he said.

CORD lawyers Paul Mwangi and Siaya Senator James Orengo said the coalition was not keen to have presidential election results announced by the IEBC chair in Nairobi.

“Elections are held in constituencies. We want the powers to pronounce presidential election results in constituencies. The reason is that we will not have the inconsistencies we had with Forms 34, 35 and 36 which had different figures from what was declared,” said Mwangi, who championed the failed Okoa Kenya signature collection drive.

Orengo said: “If presidential results are announced in constituencies by returning officers, then it is possible to have a petition challenging such results from a constituency or even a set of constituencies in case of discrepancies.”

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