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ODM MPs hint at boycott if polls law standoff is not resolved

By Maureen Odiwuor | January 3rd 2017
Nominated MP Oburu Odinga during a press conference in Kisumu on January 01,2016. (Photo: Denish Ochieng/ Standard)

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) legislators have said they will be reluctant to participate in this year's General Election if the controversy surrounding the electoral reforms Bill is not resolved amicably.

The MPs, Oburu Oginga (nominated) and Fred Outa (Nyando), said the Opposition was ready to sit down with the Government and find a solution to whether the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) should use a manual system or Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) machines for voter identification.

"If we do not sit down and come up with a satisfying position for both sides, then we will be reluctant to participate in an election that has been rigged in advance," said Oburu.

He said the Election Act passed in Parliament was based on a negotiated agreement by both the Opposition and Government.

"The leadership of both sides told troops in Parliament not to revise even a comma in the Act. Personally, I thought the argument was more skewed toward the Government and favoured President Uhuru Kenyatta too much," he said.

He said the privilege given to the President to choose the IEBC chairperson was already too much, adding that Opposition MPs accepted the provision after they were assured that voter identification and vote transmission would be done electronically.

"We were told to accept it as it is. The main provisions that made us accept it as it is was because we were assured that there was going to be no possibility of voters resurrecting from the grave, coming out to vote, and going back," he said.

Oburu said the electronic identification of voters does not have to entail the use of electricity.

"Some of the BVR machines use rechargeable batteries. There are also special phones that can access satellite signals and transmit results, so manual voter identification should not happen," he said.

He said the BVR kits were deliberately made to fail in 2013 so that the manual system, which he claims aided in vote manipulation, could be used.

Outa said the election law was negotiated by all parties and involved participation by all Kenyans.

"We can't go back in 2017 and try to revisit the Bill. Even our standing orders do not allow us to revisit the Bill before six months are up. Whatever happened last year to have the Bill passed won't be repeated by the Senate," he said.

He said he expected the Government to abide by the law and let the National Assembly do its work without interference.

Outa said if the Government deviated from what was negotiated regarding election law, then the Opposition would call for peaceful demonstrations.

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