16 May 2016

Kenya: Jubilee Women Leaders Woo Voters in Cord's Backyard

Photo: Evans Habil/Daily Nation
Police officers chase after a protestor to clobber him at the Anniversary Towers in Nairobi on May 16, 2016 during Cord demonstrations against IEBC commissioners. Officers shot a man in Kibera during a stand-off with youth who wanted to uproot a railway protesting excessive force used against Cord protesters earlier in the day.

A section of women leaders on Monday faulted Cord for using demonstrations to push for the ouster of electoral agency's commissioners, warning that the protests could lead to violence.

Addressing Kilome Constituency residents at Kitaingo and Kasikeu trading centres in Makueni County, the leaders, led by Nairobi Women Representative Rachael Shebesh, urged the opposition coalition to stick to the law when demanding for reforms at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Ms Shebesh's comments were echoed by National Assembly Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso, Nominated Senator Beatrice Elachi and Kilome MP Regina Ndambuki, who was playing host to the Jubilee leaning team that visited her constituency.

"As Jubilee we are not protecting IEBC commissioners, but we are opposed to the use of unconstitutional means to reform the electoral body," said Ms Shebesh.

The leaders' call came at a time when Kenyans are evenly divided over whether the IEBC has the capacity to carry out free and fair elections next year.

A survey, commissioned by Nation and conducted by Consumer Insight, shows that 44 per cent of Kenyans eligible to vote believe that the electoral commission as currently constituted would not be a fair referee in the upcoming elections because it is inept and corrupt.

The Kilome MP said the Constitution was clear on what mechanisms those faulting IEBC commissioners should adopt to push for their ouster and urged the residents to refuse to be incited into joining demonstrations.

"The current disgruntlement against the electoral agency is akin to what we saw before the 2007 elections that ended in violence. Opposition leaders should not take us through the violence route," added Deputy Speaker Laboso.

UKAMBANI TOUR

Instead, the leaders heaped praise on the ruling Jubilee coalition and urged the local residents to avoid the opposition because "it has nothing to offer (them)."

Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire said that the caucus of Jubilee women leaders was President Uhuru Kenyatta's emissary in the region.

The leaders read out to the public several roads and water project that the government has said it is committed to undertaking.

"This would have been impossible if your MP was not pro-development and for that reason you need to reciprocate by supporting her and voting President Kenyatta back in 2017," said Ms Mbarire.

The Jubilee leaders are touring the Ukambani region less than a month after Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua led a delegation of as many as 10,000 professionals to State House, Nairobi where they met the President.

In a move intended to woo the opposition-leaning region to the Jubilee coalition, President Kenyatta outlined a raft of development initiatives his government had initiated or wanted to commission in the area.

According to Ms Shebesh, the caucus of Jubilee women leaders are on a mission to ensure that current women lawmakers in the country retain their seats in next year's elections.

Probe further, the Nairobi Women's Rep said their caucus only targeted women leaning towards the ruling coalition and who are also in power.

However, the Kilome MP told Nation, on the sidelines of the meeting, that she was undecided on which party to defend her seat with in 2017 General Elections.

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