ODM leader Raila Odinga has dismissed claims that he was not party to the final changes touching on the IEBC in the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 that was unveiled yesterday.
The former Prime Minister, who together with President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the signatures collection exercise at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) to trigger a referendum on the Bill next year, said he agreed with the contents of the Bill.
In a statement to newsrooms by his spokesperson Mr Dennis Onyango, Mr Odinga owned the changes to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report that saw the deletion of a clause that would have given parliamentary political parties power in the appointment of some commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
During the event on Wednesday, Mr Odinga spoke passionately about the earlier proposal, saying it would ensure the autonomy of the electoral agency.
"We have received enquiries about views expressed yesterday by H.E.Raila Odinga particularly on the constitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and whether those views indicated he was not party to the contents of the Bill that was unveiled," said Mr Onyango.
"We wish to clarify that Mr Odinga was party to the changes and in agreement with the contents of the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020."
The spokesman explained that Mr Odinga simply used the Wednesday event to highlight the contested proposals that found their way into the Bill as well as those that were abandoned.
"... he also made the point that not all views, however strongly held, including his, were accepted into the Bill and it should not be a reason for actors to oppose the process," Mr Onyango added.
On Wednesday, the ODM leader had said political parties are the main actors in elections and should be allowed to play a part in such hiring.
He said the most transparent election the country has had was the 2002 General Election when the then Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) commissioners were picked through the Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group (IPPG) agreement that involved Kanu, DP, Ford Kenya, Ford Asili and Safina.
After the Wednesday event, a section of leaders, particularly those allied to Deputy President William Ruto, argued that Mr Odinga had been duped into appending his signature in support of the Bill, which had not reflected his views.
"I told you even Hon. Raila Odinga didn't know what was being launched. Like Mzee Seii he signed by faith. The document had already been heavily amended to accommodate a number of issues raised by hustlers especially DP at Bomas," Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen tweeted.
His Tharaka Nithi counterpart Prof Kithure Kindiki wrote: "It was quite unfair to hide the contents of the final version of the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill 2020 from H.E. the Right Honourable Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga."
"Honestly, given his rank and position in the process, he didn't deserve the embarrassment of having to defend the already expunged clause that sought to interfere with the independence of the IEBC by involving some political parties in the selection and appointment of commissioners," said Prof Kindiki.
The Star newspaper also led with the splash: "Fresh BBI changes: Raila caught off guard."