Opposition chief Raila Odinga was party to the changes and in agreement with the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020, launched on Wednesday.
This is after his speech at the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) signature drive appeared to betray his knowledge on the actual proposals in the document that was later released to the public.
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In the speech, Raila explained why they had proposed to have political parties appoint the electoral commissioners, adding that there is no neutral person in the world.
According to Raila, the fairest and credible elections were conducted in 2002 following the appointment of the commissioners by political parties in which the then President Daniel arap Moi picked 10 while opposition parties picked 10 under the defunct Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group.
However, in the document that was released, IEBC commissioners would not be appointed through the political parties. This proposal, contained in the previous draft of BBI, had been dropped.
This informed talk that Raila could have been caught off guard by some of the changes.
But yesterday, Raila, through his spokesman Dennis Onyango, sought to clarify that he was party to the changes and in agreement with contents of the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and that he only highlighted the contested proposals in the Bill.
ODM MPs John Mbadi (Suba South), Jared Okello (Nyando), Simba Arati (Dagoretti North) and the party’s Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna dismissed reports that Raila could have been duped on the published Bill.
Mr Mbadi said the agreement was that some of the issues could be addressed through statutes.
“The agreement to drop the issue on IEBC was agreed by both President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga. It was agreed that the issue can be left to be dealt with through statutes. If it is done through statutes, it becomes very flexible,” said Mbadi.
Mr Sifuna charged that the proposal to have commissioners appointed by political parties is still on, adding that it will now be done through legislative amendment.
“The BBI has three sections – policy proposals, legislative amendment and constitutional amendment. They are ones who have been telling us that you don’t need a referendum to do everything. Then when we separate the issues like we have, they say we have been shortchanged,” said Sifuna.
He said what happened on Wednesday was launching the Constitutional Amendment Bill which he claimed does not contain anything to do with IEBC.
Okello, a close ally of Raila, said his party leader was aware of the details of the Bill and were constantly being briefed together with the president by the BBI team and experts on everything they do.
He said both Uhuru and Raila considered the concerns raised by the clergy and shared the same with the experts to include in the Bill.
“Before unveiling the signature launch, the president and Raila were in a meeting for 30 minutes where the experts took them through the Bill and the changes effected. How can the owner of a document be said not to know its content? This is a misplaced assertion as Raila was seized of the matter from the beginning,” said Okello.
Give and take
“The salient issue is that at all times, you cannot get all what you want. There is the spirit of give and take and Raila had to cede and allow the country to go on. Raila expressed his personal desire but this did not end in the final draft,” he added.
Arati laughed off their political nemesis for propagating propaganda about the IEBC issue, adding that ODM party had all the cards on the table.
“It’s unfortunate that our colleagues from the other political divide think we are doing this for personal gains,” said Arati.