19 October 2017

Kenya: President Kenyatta Rules Out Talks With Raila On Repeat Poll

Photo: Joseph Kanyi/The Nation
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto address residents in Nanyuki, Laikipia County, on October 18, 2017.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have ruled out talks with the opposition on the repeat presidential election, saying Jubilee is ready for next week's poll.

At the same time, the President warned individuals planning to disrupt next week's repeat election that they will face the law, as he condemned attacks on electoral commission officials across the country.

Addressing rallies in Trans Nzoia, Baringo and Laikipia counties, the Jubilee leaders dismissed National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader Raila Odinga's call for a meeting to discuss changes at the electoral commission before the repeat poll.

They said Mr Odinga had already announced his withdrawal from the election and should stop making demands.

"We are ready for the election set for October 26 and I will not hold talks with anyone," President Kenyatta told hundreds of supporters in Kabarnet.

DIALOGUE

"The only talks I will hold are with the people of Kenya, going to the voters to ask for votes. The IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) has been supported by taxpayers with Sh12 billion and their job is to organise elections and not to hold dialogue with anyone," he said.

The President added: "I heard that they (opposition) want to have talks with me. I have no time for such talks. If Raila is not ready to vote on October 26, then he can go and sleep in his house and leave alone Kenyans who are ready to exercise their democratic rights."

During a Jubilee rally in Nanyuki, Laikipia County, on Wednesday, President Kenyatta warned: "Anyone who will attempt to disrupt the election or beat election officials will be dealt with regardless of their position. You cannot stop a democratic process."

He added: "We cannot allow a few individuals to destroy our country."

OFFICIALS ATTACKED

He cited incidents where IEBC officials were attacked while conducting training for the coming poll.

The President accused Mr Odinga of instigating the attacks, adding that the opposition was free to withdraw from the election but not to disrupt polling.

"Mr Odinga, we have respected your decision to keep off the election. Why do you think you have a right to deny Kenyans a chance to vote?" he asked.

The Head of State said the security of IEBC staff will not be compromised and they should be allowed to do their work without intimidation.

The President spoke shortly after mobs stormed areas in Kisumu and Vihiga where election officials were holding training workshops ahead of the election.

In Kisumu, a training session at the county's Huduma Centre was disrupted after youths stormed it and vandalised chairs and tents.

RESIGNATION

In her resignation statement Wednesday, Dr Roselyn Akombe, who was a commissioner, cited fears that the IEBC staff had, especially over attacks during training sessions. She referred to attacks that saw staff sustain injuries in Mumias, Bungoma, Homa Bay, Siaya, and Kisumu during training.

In Nanyuki, Deputy President William Ruto said the October 26 election was unstoppable, whether IEBC commissioners resign or not.

"They can call press conferences as they want and resign as they desire but we must go to the polls," he said.

The DP insisted that there are schemes by the opposition to destroy the country. He said it is time the country moved on.

REFORMS

"Kenya cannot be stopped from moving forward because of people who are not interested in development of the nation. We have said enough is enough of these games, schemes and rackets," Mr Ruto told Jubilee supporters during the Nanyuki rally.

He warned Nasa leaders against going back to the streets with demands on reforms at the IEBC while their candidate, Mr Odinga, had withdrawn from the election.

Reported by Grace Gitau, Gerald Bwisa, Florah Koech and Mwangi Ndirangu

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