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Opposition lists demands in behind-the-scenes talks

POLITICS
By Jacob Ngetich | December 3rd 2017
NASA leader Raila Odinga, Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi (right) and Ugenya MP Chris Karan at the funeral of Collins Owino at Sidindi village in Ugunja, Siaya county yesterday. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The National Super Alliance (NASA) is calling for constitutional amendments and a fresh election soon. These are among the latest demands on secret talks being pushed for by some envoys from the European Union and members of the clergy.

Also in the Opposition’s demands are the change of Executive to introduce a parliamentary system or rotational presidency, more autonomy for counties and security shared between national and county governments.

According to sources, the push for behind-the-scenes talks by Western countries and the clergy are informed by their concern that the country is deeply divided.

The country has been in political upheaval occasioned by disputed presidential elections. President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto were on Tuesday sworn in for a second and final term at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

On the same day, NASA leader Raila Odinga declared that he would be sworn in together with his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka on Jamhuri Day. He repeated the statement yesterday, saying he would not recognise President Kenyatta’s government.

Economic boycott

He said plans to swear him in as the people’s president on December 12 was on course and announced their intention to scale up the economic boycott of selected goods and services. “Arrangements for the swearing-in ceremony are complete. I am just waiting for a report from the seven-member organising committee,” he said.

Raila told the Jubilee government to “heed the voice of the people and hand over power to me”.

“The voice of the people is the voice of God and the Opposition’s resolve to march to the promised land of Canaan is on course and it is just a matter of time before they get there.

“You can use all the army and the police to kill and maim innocent Kenyans but no amount of brute force will deter the people’s resolve to a just and democratic government,” he said.

He was speaking at Sindindi in Ugunja, Siaya County, during the burial of Collins Owino, who was killed by police in Nairobi on the day Raila returned from the US.

Religious leaders asked NASA to help the country focus on the reform agenda and rethink its agitation, particularly the planned swearing in of Raila. They said such a move will only harden positions and compromise the much needed focus.

But behind the scenes, NASA leaders are embracing the idea of talks. Sources in the Opposition say the talks will lead to new elections in about six months and not to some power sharing deal.

On the NASA’s list of issues for dialogue is reorganisation of the country’s governance structure, particularly the executive and the legislature, strengthening the Judiciary and devolution and security sector reforms.

This they demand must lead to a referendum after which the country returns to fresh elections.

According to the sources, the NASA leadership early this week met religious leaders and put these matters on the table. The religious leaders are believed to be working closely with or are sponsored by the US.

Raila and other NASA principals are reportedly expected to raise these issues with representatives of US government in Nairobi early next week.

Raila has said his push for a regime change was unstoppable as he accused the Jubilee government of engaging in ethnic cleaning.

He told his supporters to remain calm and wait for bigger things to come, saying he would not relent in his fight to deliver Kenyans from what he termed as an “illegitimate and murderous regime”.

“Our journey to Canaan is unstoppable. We must liberate Kenyans from this rogue government which is killing its innocent people, including children,” said Raila.

“When a state becomes rogue, there are many remedies to deal with it and we are exploring all these remedies.”

Two tribes

The opposition is apparently pushing for a parliamentary system of governance to deal with the problem of the presidency being seen as a preserve for two communities.

On issues of devolution, NASA is putting on the table demands to save counties from being starved of funds and other resources by the national government.

The Opposition wants significant fiscal autonomy for counties where money goes directly to the counties and not through the National Treasury.

In essence they are calling for the devolved units to have greater independence and be formulated as federal units like US States unlike now where the counties are treated as departments of the national government.

NASA also wants security shared between the national and county governments and in particular Administration Police to be under governors while national police service remains with the national government.

They want an arrangement where the President does not have unfettered authority to deploy national police to the counties without authority of governors.

At the Ugunja funeral, Raila said the police backed up by Mungiki members had killed more than 100 Kenyans across the country since the August elections and demanded a stop to police brutality.

“You cannot legitimise an illegality through the gun. If a cat becomes wild and starts eating chicks, it has to be skinned. We have many ways in place that we will explore until justice is brought back to the people of Kenya,” he said.

The deceased was a nephew of Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi.

Raila accused Jubilee leaders of arming and deploying Mungiki gang members to kill and maim his supporters.

He said it was sad that President Kenyatta had congratulated the police for a job well done at a time the country was mourning victims of police brutality. “To the Jubilee regime, police did an excellent job by killing and maiming innocent Kenyans. To them, it is a big achievement when the police kills children,” said the opposition chief.

He said on the day he returned from the US, police killed a total of 18 people who were among those welcoming him back home.

“It was unfortunate that police brutally killed innocent people who had come to welcome me back home. I never planned my grand welcome,” he said.

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