We will stop you from taking us to dark past, Raila warns Ruto

Azimio One Kenya Coalition Principals (from left) Kalonzo Musyoka, Raila Odinga, Martha Karua and Spokesman Makau Mutua addresses press conference at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation Offices. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has accused President William Ruto of a plot to return Kenya to dark old days, but vowed to push back what he described as a path of impunity and revenge by the government.

He said Kenyans have witnessed a swift, steady and dangerous re-emergence of the capture of state institutions by the Executive with the Judiciary being the first to willingly give in. He also cited the struggle being witnessed in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Speaking at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation in Nairobi yesterday, Raila said although the country was facing monumental challenges caused by drought and hunger, the government was keen to add more pain to citizens by introducing unpopular policies. 

“Since the conclusion of the election circle we have done our best to give President Ruto time and space to heal and unite our land. We have given so much space that sections of Kenyans are thinking we have given up the fight. Unfortunately, Ruto seems to think we have surrendered,” he said.

The Azimio leader said the injustice being inflicted on IEBC commissioners Juliana Cherera, Irene Masit, Francis Wanderi and Justus Nyang'aya, if allowed to proceed, will mark the beginning of massive pushback against Ruto and those who think like him by the people of Kenya.

The opposition leader told the four commissioners to boycott summons to appear before the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC), saying that Parliament was usurping the role of a tribunal as its role was limited to summoning petitioners and deciding whether issues raised warrant setting up of a tribunal or not.

Raila said IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati and commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu whose terms in office end in January next year, had sworn not to hand over power to Ms Cherera and her team and the current rush was aimed at having friendly commissioners in readiness for 2027 election.

“We are here to sound a warning that no one should lie to this regime that we will sit back and watch a return of past repressive regimes. If deepening and widening the divisions among Kenyans is what the UDA regime wants, we will only be happy to help them along that path,” he said.

The former Prime Minister called on both Houses to be guarantors of the rule of law and justice, and stop being enablers of unconstitutional revenge mission deployed against four commissioners whose only mistake was to stand for truth when required.

Raila said the probe against the four commissioners was politically instigated and a continuation of a witch-hunt mission that Ruto is on, warning that it will turn into a nasty partisan fight at a time the country needs unity to tackle challenges facing the people.

He maintained that selective injustice against the four commissioners was taking place despite existence of other petitions seeking removal of Chebukati, Guliye and Molu. He claimed those who stood for the truth were being punished.

“The country wants to move on, UDA is focusing on pushing out commissioners who did not agree with their chairman being trivial, vindictive and vile and must be stopped since it will not end well,” he warned.

He accused speakers Moses Wetang'ula (National Assembly) and Amason King (Senate) of working at the behest of the president who was laying ground for 2027 polls. Raila claimed that the exercise was already predetermined where the commissioners are supposed to be found guilty.

The four, he said, will be made to appear before a tribunal set up by the president to confirm their guilt then they will be thrown out of IEBC.

Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua said Ruto is acting outside the law since a selection panel to get a new IEBC chairman should be in place six months before end of the term of current holder. Instead, they are scheming to change composition of the selection panel, she added.

Karua noted that Chebukati, Molu and Guliye should be on terminal leave but were still insisting on being in office to oversee coming by-elections.

“We are in for a ruthless leadership never seen before, the charade in Parliament intends to stop the IEBC vice chairperson and her team taking over when the outgoing chairperson and two commissioners leave office in January. We ask them to go home peacefully,” she said.

The Narc-Kenya leader called on Cherera and the three commissioners whose terms of office end in September 2027 to take charge of the affairs of the commission since they are the majority.

Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka said the rule of law, justice and fairness had relegated to the periphery by the Ruto administration.

Kalonzo wondered why the government was keen on pushing unpopular and dangerous decisions like allowing Genetically Modified Organisms and warned that this would lead to a spike in diseases.

Prof Makau Mutua noted that what was being witnessed in Parliament was a microcosm of what the UDA government intends to do to Kenyans in five years.

“We have seen the preparation of a slaughterhouse for the four IEBC commissioners, we saw the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Chairperson with a clear script and was on autopilot to deliver a particular verdict which is to hound the commissioners out of office,” said Prof Mutua.

By Agencies Jan. 27, 2023
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