Raila hints at being in committee to select new IEBC commissioners

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga. [David Gichuru, Standard]

Azimio leader Raila Odinga has hinted at being part of a joint committee with Kenya Kwanza to select new commissioners and the chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC)

Raila's sentiments signal a truce could be in the offing with President William Ruto over the reconstitution of IEBC after several months of political bickering.

But as he outlined their plans to reconstitute the electoral body, Raila renewed his criticism of Ruto's administration for failing to address high cost of living.

He was speaking in Awendo, Migori County, where he urged his supporters to remain steadfast and rallied people to enlist as ODM members.

Raila outlined how the committee will be formed and said President Ruto and himself must be in the committee.

"If I refuse, it cannot be done," he said.

Reconstitution of IEBC is one of the teething problems that the opposition had listed and had hoped they would find a solution to through the National Dialogue Committee.

In mid-October, the committee struck an agreement to form a new team that would lead in the selection of the IEBC chairperson and six commissioners.

They had agreed to have the IEBC selection panel reconstituted and the number of the selection panel increased from seven to nine.

The sentiments by Raila signal a final breakthrough for IEBC which has been at the centre of controversy pitting the government with opposition.

IEBC has been operating without commissioners since the retirement of Chairman Wafula Chebukati, and commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu on January 17.

The other commissioners, former vice chairperson Juliana Cherera and commissioners Justus Nyang’aya and Francis Wanderi resigned after President William Ruto formed a tribunal to investigate their conduct.

Irene Masit was removed on the recommendation of the tribunal.

Delays in reconstituting the commission have left voters and aspirants in places requiring a by-election confused.

The Azimio principal was speaking at Awendo MP Walter Owino's home on December 15 where he was accompanied by Governor Ochilo Ayacko, National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi and Senator Eddy Oketch, Nyatike MP Tom Odege and Suna West MP Peter Masara.

After addressing elders from Migori, Raila renewed his attacks on President Ruto over the cost of living and accused the government of stifling devolution.

He termed the cost of living a responsibility of the Kenya Kwanza government, saying that it was Ruto's burden.

He dismissed the reduction in fuel prices by Sh5 as a mockery to Kenyans.

"They (Kenya Kwanza) have failed in everything. Right now they have opened the door to anyone to enter Kenya. Kenya is on the brink of bankruptcy," he said.

Wandayi said they were solidly behind ODM and dismissed UDA's forays in Raila's traditional support bases.

"Even if you come, you cannot get more than 100 people here joining UDA. Nyanza is ODM," Wandayi said.

Migori Governor Ochillo Ayacko echoed Raila's sentiments, saying the county has not received money from the Exchequer since October.

"We are not getting county funds," the governor said.