10 October 2017

Kenya Opposition Chief Odinga Withdraws From Oct 26 Poll

Photo: Jeff Angote/Daily Nation
Nasa leaders Raila Odinga (right) and Kalonzo Musyoka address the media at Okoa Kenya offices in Nairobi on September 8, 2017.

Nairobi — National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga has withdrawn from the October 26 fresh presidential election.

Odinga says he cannot participate in the election under the existing circumstances, arguing that the contest cannot be free and fair.

"We have come to the conclusion that there is no intention on the part of the IEBC to undertake any changes to its operations and personnel to ensure that the "illegalities and irregularities" that led to the invalidation of the 8th August 2008 do not happen again. All indications are that the election scheduled for 26 October will be worse than the previous one," Odinga said.

He spoke hours after the electoral commission sent a letter to him informing him that it cannot meet all his demands - including having another firm other than Al Ghurair print ballot papers and the exit of IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba.

"We wish to reiterate what we have stated in the past that we will not allow autocracy back into Kenya," Odinga said.

The former Prime Minister pointed out that, "It is unfortunate that international actors who have supported Kenyans in their quest for democracy and good governance are now on the side of appeasing dictatorship in the mistaken belief that it will maintain stability."

"We shall not allow anything to dampen our morale. We won the battle for multiparty democracy. We won the battle for a new Constitution. We are going to win the battle for a free and fair election."

The statement was read in shifts among the NASA principals, who said current the environment is not stable for a country to hold a free, fair and credible election.

Other than the electoral changes by their counterparts in the Jubilee Government, the NASA coalition is opposed to the continued stay of several Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials, AL Ghurair, the firm that printed the ballot papers, among other contentious issues.

"After deliberating on our position in respect of the upcoming election, considering the interests of the people of Kenya, the region and the world at large, we believe that all will be best served by NASA vacating its presidential candidature in the election scheduled for 26 October 2017," Odinga asserted.

According to Odinga, who was accompanied by his co-principals, "The IEBC has refused, neglected or failed to put in place mechanisms to correct these illegalities and irregularities. We deem that the fresh election ordered by the Supreme Court cannot, therefore, be held."

"Allowing the candidature of Raila Amolo Odinga and Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka to lend credence to the election now scheduled is to participate in an illegality."

Following the decision, NASA leaders now want the IEBC to cancel the intended October 26 presidential poll and to conduct fresh nominations.

Their demands, they said, are backed in the Constitution.

"The procedure for nomination of presidential candidates is provided for in the Elections Act 2011, Section 13 (1) which states," he said.

The Elections Act 2011, Section 13 (1) which states: "A political party shall nominate its candidates for an election under this act at least ninety days before a general election under this Act in accordance with its constitution rules."

"It is clear that this provision gives adequate time to undertake the reforms necessary to conduct an election that is in strict conformity with the Constitution, the relevant laws and the Constitution," the leaders said.

"This being the case, it is our conviction that our withdrawal is in the best interest of the country and a win-win for everyone."

- Against Electoral Reforms -

NASA's main bone of contention is anchored on the electoral changes that were being debated by Parliament.

While Jubilee believes the changes are meant to facilitate a smooth transmission of votes, their counterparts in the NASA coalition say the "ill-conceived amendments to election laws are not only unconstitutional but go against international best practice that in the middle of an elections contest one cannot change the rules and put in place rules that seek to favour him."

"Moreover, these profound changes to the electoral architecture are being pushed through without the broad-based consultations as required by the Constitution."

Furthermore, Odinga argued that the amendments are intended to legalise and regularise the illegalities that led to the invalidation of the August 8 election.

"It stands to reason that the motive for these amendments is to use the same tactics to rig the scheduled election," they argued.

Odinga is now preparing to jet out to the United Kingdom to give a lecture on the prevailing political situation in the country.

Even with this, the coalition's countrywide demonstrations against the IEBC will continue on Wednesday and Friday, this week.

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