7 July 2014

Kenya: CORD Ditches Dialogue Call, Demands Referendum

Photo: Jack Owuor/The Star
Opposition leader Raila Odinga (left) with President Uhuru Kenyatta share a light moment (file photo).

Nairobi — The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy on Monday declared that it had abandoned demands for national dialogue, and now wants a national referendum.

In a resolution that was read out at the Saba Saba rally, CORD leaders said they would form a committee to collect one million signatures across the country to come up with referendum questions.

“We have decided to convene an all-inclusive National Referendum Committee (NRC) for the purpose of preparing the people of Kenya for a national referendum on the critical challenges facing our nation,” Senator Boni Khalwale announced.

“We shall mandate the National Referendum Committee to ensure the maximum participation of the people of Kenya in the referendum at the county, sub-county and ward levels all over Kenya in formulating the referendum questions, collecting and collating one million signatures to initiate the referendum.”

They also formed a movement called Okoa Kenya (OK) with an ambitious agenda which includes what they said will be to support one another in good and bad times and to defend the Constitution.

“We launch today Okoa Kenya, a people’s movement to defend our Constitution, support one another in good and bad times, protect the gains we have made in democratic governance, and re-dedicate ourselves to national unity and peaceful co-existence,” the Uhuru Park declaration read.

They also demanded that “the Jubilee administration addresses the escalating cost of living by reviewing the taxation regime.”

The coalition’s leaders warned that if Jubilee failed to do so, they would mobilise their supporters to boycott the consumption of goods and services whose prices are beyond the reach of the public.

In the daylong rally, leaders pointed at corruption, removal of the Kenya Defence Forces from Somalia and tribalism as some of the main challenges that should be addressed. READ: Our rally will be peaceful – Raila.

“We demand the immediate end to corruption, wasteful spending, and reckless borrowing within and by Jubilee government,” Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar said while reading a part of the resolutions.

“In this regard, we demand that the Jubilee administration immediately cancels the inflated security camera contract irregularly awarded to Safaricom and that Safaricom withdraws from the contract and subjects itself to competitive bidding, failing which we will commence commercial sanctions on Safaricom and other companies abetting corruption or engaging in monopolistic practices.”

The leaders accused the government of deploying too many police officers to man the rally at the expense of the country’s security, saying it was meant to intimidate them.

To explain the low numbers at the rally compared to previous ones, CORD co-principal Moses Wetangula said the heavy deployment of security personnel scared away some of their supporters from attending the Uhuru Park rally.

On security, Odinga said the Government “should take visible, decisive action to deal with runaway insecurity, including holding the senior security officials accountable for hundreds of Kenyans who have been killed and maimed in the various attacks and conflicts across the country.” READ: Raila’s dialogue demand absurd – Duale, Kindiki.

He said the Opposition “will not allow the Executive, through Parliament, to bastardise the Report of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) and demanded the immediate implementation of the original and unadulterated report.

Land issues also emerged with demands that the government should immediately address historical injustices.

The coalition also wants a, “national audit and publication by the Public Service Commission of all appointments made in the public service by the Jubilee administration, with full details listing names, ethnic backgrounds and percentages.”

Former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said the opposition “will continue pushing for the required changes in the country. Eighty percent of Kenyans are behind our calls.”

Aware of the great expectations from his supporters, Odinga in his concluding remarks promised that more was going to be done saying, “they are many ways of dealing with a cat.”

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