Kenya: Odinga Denies Progress on Talks With IEBC

IEBC officials in a meeting with Jubilee and Nasa officials at Bomas of Kenya on September 27, 2017.
5 October 2017

Nasa leader Raila Odinga Wednesday dismissed claims by the electoral agency of advancement in talks on the October 26 fresh presidential election.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati had on Tuesday expressed optimism that the majority of the Nasa demands had been met, and even promised a written document testifying to it.

However, Mr Odinga said no such progress had been made following talks with the commission at the Bomas of Kenya.

He also maintained that Nasa will go on with its bi-weekly demonstrations to call for the coalition's demands to be met.

BLOW

The remarks by Mr Odinga deal a blow to efforts by IEBC that held a five-hour meeting with Nasa on Tuesday to reach common ground on the fresh poll.

"Do not be cheated that Nasa has some agreement with IEBC and that there is some progress that we are party to. We have no such agreement and our faith in IEBC remains zero," Mr Odinga told journalists at the Okoa Kenya Secretariat offices in Lavington, Nairobi, after meeting with Gusii elders.

Nasa has presented a raft of proposals it termed 'irreducible minimums' for the commission to fulfil before it can go to the fresh polls, without which it says, there will be no elections.

"We are not trying to take Jubilee to the altar and then cheer that they have gotten married. We will not do that. We are asking IEBC to do soul-searching and answer our demands in our document," he said.

ELECTION LAWS

The opposition has also opposed the proposed election law changes by the President Kenyatta-led Jubilee Party in Parliament, saying the move is tantamount to changing the rules in the middle of a game.

"We really do not want to follow Jubilee into their madness. Those are people who belong to Mathare psychiatric institution. So, we don't want to talk about this," he said when asked if Nasa will engage in talks on the laws in the House.

After holding a one-hour meeting with Mr Odinga and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka on Tuesday, IEBC met the top Nasa leadership for a further two hours, before meeting two of its representatives in the evening.

Mr Chebukati termed the talks fruitful. He downplayed any misgivings, saying the problem might be that the commission had not put in writing what it had done to address Nasa's concerns, claims Mr Odinga denied Wednesday.

STREET PROTESTS

"We presented a document of things we wanted implemented before we go to the fresh polls. IEBC then gave us a matrix which does not respond to any of the fundamental issues we raised," said Mr Odinga.

Mr Odinga says the only way for Nasa to get its demands met -- including the sacking of IEBC officials it says bungled the August 8 poll, change of the ballot papers printer, and the alteration of the polls technology provider -- was through continued street protests.

"We reject attempts to imply that Nasa's decision to hold peaceful demonstrations is an act of violence. Those protests shall, therefore, continue across the country every Monday and Friday in accordance with the law," said the former Prime Minister.

He also accused police of being "systematically and consistently trigger-happy" against unarmed peaceful Nasa supporters.

"The police have unleashed brutal force against innocent civilians including young university students. Using thugs in police uniform to invade a university and beat students, and even stripping some of them naked in their halls of residence is the heart of darkness and impunity," he said.

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