Opposition leaders put off mass action to rally supporters for mass voter registration
By Rawlings Otieno and Protus Onyango
| January 12th 2017
The Opposition has shelved plans for street protests to concentrate on rallying supporters to register as voters.
During a convention bringing together 15 political parties, the Opposition leaders said they would not fall into what they termed a trap of Jubilee to protest against changes to electoral laws passed by Parliament and assented to by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) leader Raila Odinga said the Opposition’s priority will be to list enough voters in the exercise that begins next week.
“Only a firm decision that Jubilee has to let go of our country and our people will work. You must all go out, in every town, village, home, church, school, bus stop every single day and not rest until everybody you meet is a registered voter,” said Mr Odinga.
He cautioned Opposition supporters against losing hope, saying that the leaders will not accept rigged elections.
“Yes, Jubilee will try to steal the elections. But we shall not allow it. We shall make it impossible for anyone to steal the election,” he said.
Raila expressed confidence that the Opposition will win the forthcoming polls.
“It has to be done. It has been done elsewhere. It will be done here with your help and the backing of a united opposition,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, who said listing as voters was the surest way of winning in the August 8 polls.
“We refuse to fall into the trap of Jubilee and going for mass action. Our mass action is going out to register as voters,” said Kalonzo.
The Opposition claimed that during the last election, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) presided over skewed distribution of the Biometric Voter Registration kits to CORD strongholds that disenfranchised its supporters.
“We can only vote if we register. The last time IEBC enlisted people before elections in 2013 and denied our supporters a chance to register as voters by providing few kits. Another final registration before elections begins in five days’ time,” said Raila.
More leaders, including Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi, Ford Kenya Leader Moses Wetang’ula and Senators Johnstone Muthama (Machakos), James Orengo (Siaya) Boni Khalwale (Kakamega) and Kanu Secretary Nick Salat urged their supporters to seize the opportunity and list as voters.
Mudavadi, who has been pushing for Opposition unity under National Super Alliance (NASA), promised that the leaders will work hard to ensure that the Opposition remains united.
“The road is thin and long but when we unite, the road is short and wide. The only strategy for us is to have a strong opposition and ensure that our supporters have registered as voters,” he said.
Wetang’ula, who is also the Senate minority leader, called on Opposition supporters to make sure that those who have not registered as voters do so.
“Our mass action is registration as voters. We want our supporters and various aspirants to be the first and the last line of defence in ensuring that all eligible voters are registered,” said Wetangula.
The leaders were speaking at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi yesterday during the first ever National Super Alliance (NASA) meeting.
During the meeting, Raila faulted IEBC, claiming that in 2013, the commission denied Opposition supporters the chance to register by deploying fewer kits in perceived CORD areas than in Jubilee strongholds.
He warned that the August polls would be the turning point for the country’s history.
“If the past four years is anything to go by, the elections of 2017 will determine whether we remain a viable nation or we go the route of collapse that has stalked much of Africa,” he said.
Raila appealed to Opposition supporters who had applied for identity cards to collect them to enable them register as voters.
The leaders tore into Jubilee government, saying Kenya faces unprecedented corruption, tribalism, marginalisation, unemployment and rising cost of living.
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