5 September 2017

Kenya: Uhuru and Raila Locked in Standoff Over Election Date

Photo: Kanyiri Wahito and Benson Momanyi/The Nation
President Uhuru Kenyatta, left, campaigns in Kajiado County on September 5, 2017 while Raila Odinga addresses a rally in Kisii town on September 5, 2017.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his main rival Raila Odinga were on Tuesday locked in a fresh standoff over the date of the repeat presidential election.

The National Super Alliance rejected the October 17 date announced by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission on Monday and spelt out seven conditions, which it wants met before the poll is held.

UNCERTAINTY

But President Kenyatta warned Mr Odinga against causing further uncertainty by rejecting the IEBC date, saying he was tired of the Nasa leader's determination to "deny the majority their right".

"If Raila's vote was stolen, why is he against the new date? That's a person who is not ready to accept the will of the people.

"Being respectful does not mean I am a coward. You cannot deny the majority their right for the sake of one man. We are almost tired," he said, while campaigning in Ongata Rongai.

"Today, he has said that he will not accept the election to be held on October 17 as ordered by the court. We don't want more trouble," he said.

VOTERS' REGISTER

Mr Odinga listed his demands, which he said must be met before he takes part in the election.

He said there is no hurry to go into the poll when the irregularities pointed out by the Supreme Court when it nullified President Kenyatta's election last week have not been addressed.

"We cannot expect different results with the same people who messed up the elections in August," he said.

Among the conditions Mr Odinga wants is a review of the voters register and polling stations.

"It is important to have full clarity in relation to voters register and the polling stations.

"We demand that IEBC gives access to and publishes all reports of the transaction logs in relation to the persons identified using Kenya Integrated Election Management System and all persons identified through complimentary system," he said at Wilson Airport before departing for a campaign tour of Nyamira.

MONITORING TEAM

He also wants the commission to establish a technical monitoring committee with representatives of the main political parties, coalitions or candidates to provide oversight to the preparation, management and conduct of the electoral processes.

He demanded the immediate suspension of six IEBC officials -- the chief executive Ezra Chiloba, voter registration and electoral operations director Immaculate Kasait, legal department head Praxedes Tororey, operations chief Betty Nyabuto, ICT director James Muhati and legal officer Moses Kipkosgei -- whom he accused of being partisan.

Other conditions are the contracting of a new firm to print the ballot papers, the appointment and gazettement of returning officers in consultation with political parties and the candidates and that all forms 34B be preprinted indicating the names of polling stations in the constituency and names of candidates, he said in a letter signed by his chief agent and Nasa principal Musalia Mudavadi and sent to the electoral commission.

JUDGMENT

On Monday, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati announced October 17 as the date for the repeat election, which has been narrowed to a contest between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, after the Supreme Court last Friday invalidated the presidential results -- which had the Jubilee candidate winning with 8.2 million votes against Mr Odinga's 6.8 million -- on grounds of irregularities and failure to uphold the constitutional provisions.

In choosing to have a rematch between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga and locking out the other six candidates, the IEBC followed an interpretation of what a fresh election means, according to a judgment offered by the Dr Willy Mutunga-led court in 2013.

"If the petitioner was only one of the candidates, and who had taken the second position in vote-tally to the President-elect, then the "fresh election" will, in law, be confined to the petitioner and the President-elect," the court said in its judgment.

COALITION GOVT

On Tuesday, IEBC, in response to Mr Odinga's stand on the new date, said it was convinced by the Ministry of Education's argument that any delay would interfere with Standard Eight and Form Four national examinations.

"90 per cent of our 40,883 polling stations are schools. With the exams starting on October 23, the commission thought it would be prudent not to interfere with them," IEBC communications manager Andrew Limo said.

In Kiserian, Deputy President William Ruto accused Mr Odinga of pushing for the formation of a coalition government with Jubilee, which he said will not happen.

He asked the Nasa leader to be ready for the election on October 17 as set by the IEBC.

"Those who went to court because of schemes to overturn the will of the people will not manage.

"Raila is scheming for a coalition government but we want to tell him that he is dreaming. Raila's plan is to get to power through the back door," he said.

POLL EXPENSE

Mr Ruto hinted that they were ready to go to the polls even if the Nasa leaders boycotted it.

"We are ready for October 17. There is nowhere it's written that Raila must be on the ballot or must be consulted on the election date," he said.

President Kenyatta explained his strong criticism of the Supreme Court and CJ Maraga, arguing that they had the option of ordering a recount of the votes instead of annulling the entire presidential election.

The outcome, he said, would cost the country Sh10 billion, which would have been used to improve roads.

" I am angry because I was wronged. They wrongfully overturned my victory. We should tell the truth," he said.

He went on: "We won fair and square. We won by over 1.4 million votes but the court decided to deny us our victory.

"We are more than ready for the fresh elections".

-- Reports by Samwel Owino, David Mwere and Kamau Wanderi

Kenya

More Demos As Opposition Leader Pushes to Stop Repeat Poll

Nasa leader Raila Odinga has called on his supporters to hold demonstrations on Tuesday and Wednesday to stop the repeat… Read more »

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