Coalition for Reforms and Democracy on Friday said it had agreed with its rival Jubilee on most of the sticking points in talks to reform the electoral commission, but still announced stepped-up street protests.
In a statement read by Cord co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka, the coalition said its supporters would stage protests until all the sticking points were agreed on.
And speaking during his tour of Machakos, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Cord supporters were free to protest as long as they did not destroy property or attack police.
He overruled a directive by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery this week which outlawed all demonstrations.
“We believe that 70 per cent of the sticking points have been agreed upon,” Cord said in a statement read by Mr Musyoka in Nairobi.
The Opposition had set four conditions for the talks to take place, with a focus on keeping the process away from Parliament.
They want Speakers Justin Muturi (National Assembly) and Ekwee Ethuro (Senate) to play no role in the talks.
They also want the talks to be spearheaded by a lean team of 14 members instead of 22, not to be undertaken within the Standing Orders and the final report not to be subjected to negative amendments by Parliament.
Jubilee, through National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, had said they were ready to reduce the membership of the select committee, keep away the Speakers from the team but insisted that it must be within the rules of Parliament.
On Friday, Mr Musyoka said the coalitions needed to conclude discussions on the matter.
In the meantime, it notified the police of its protests, this time on Monday and Thursday. Cord denied claims of a split over the selection of its team of negotiators.
“Our programmes for demonstrations are still in place for Monday and Thursday next week. But we are quick to point out that demonstrations are not an end in themselves and once we have an agreement and pathway to reform IEBC, they will not be necessary,” they said in a statement.
Even though Kenyans heaved a sigh of relief when President Kenyatta announced formation of select committee to start talks over IEBC reforms, the initiative has been dogged by stubbornness from the two rival camps.
Mr Musyoka denied reports that he had walked out of the coalition’s meeting to select membership to the committee to resolve the electoral reforms crisis.
“Some people said, especially on social media, that I walked out of the meeting. I think Kenyans have not understood who I am,” Mr Musyoka said.
The former vice president said he was the one who had proposed that Siaya Senator James Orengo and Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu represent Cord in the joint team.
Cord co-principal Moses Wetang’ula, who attended the press briefing at the coalition’s Capitol Hill offices, confirmed that it was Mr Musyoka who had in fact made the proposition.
The Jubilee team is led by Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi.
Wiper Chairman David Musila said each party in the coalition had forwarded names which would be announced next week.
He accused Jubilee of being behind a scheme to show that Wiper was receiving a raw deal in Cord.
Speaking in Matuu Town as he started his three-day visit in Ukambani, President Kenyatta warned that police officers would use force to defend themselves if they were attacked.
“Those who want to demonstrate can continue if they have nothing else to do but they should not destroy property or attack the police,” he said.
The President said he would not discuss the dispute on the polls team with the Opposition as that was MPs’ work. “I was elected to steer the development of this country,” he clarified.
Deputy President William Ruto said it was comical for the Opposition to appear confounded when the government agreed on dialogue to resolve the stalemate.
Speaking later in Siaya, Mr Odinga asked President Kenyatta to expand the agenda of the talks beyond the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
The former premier said the talks should not be restricted to the stalemate on the electoral commission only but also include other issues that have bedeviled the country from 2013 to date.
These include the run-away corruption, insecurity and what he described as skewed government appointments that favour two communities.
“Cord has been calling for dialogue over many issues ever since Jubilee took over government and that is why the President should rethink the agenda of the dialogue so that many issues can be handled at a go,” Mr Odinga said.
REPORT ON IEBC
He was speaking at his brother Oburu Oginga’s home where he was accompanied by Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga, MPs Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) and Fred Outa (Nyando).
Mr Odinga maintained that the coalition would only agree to talks outside Parliament where other groups should be involved to rope in their opinions and views.
“We do not want talks to be overseen by the Speakers from both Houses who are Jubilee coalition members as they will not be impartial,” he said.
He added that laws emanate from outside Parliament and the President should respect that.
The ODM party leader said Cord would be tabling to the joint committee a booklet documenting their reasons why they want the polls commission restructured.
The booklet titled The Kenya People Case Against IEBC will spell out the omissions and inconsistencies of the electoral body during the 2013 General Election.
Mr Odinga said the booklet was a summary of the petition they took to the Supreme Court against the electoral team, contesting the controversial presidential election results that declared Uhuru the winner having garnered 50 plus one votes.
“This is the incriminating evidence against IEBC which was thrown out by the Supreme Court,” the Cord leader said.
He argued that 10 million votes were cast for governors, senators and women representative positions while the ones for presidential seats surpassed the rest by more than two million.
“During the voting process, each voter had six ballot papers to cast in six boxes; we are still wondering why the presidential votes had more votes than the other seats.”
Mr Odinga stated that the coalition, when starting their three-day tour of the Rift Valley starting with Nakuru, would make a “big announcement over the way forward on the electoral team”.
Report by Peter Leftie, Stephen Muthini, Nelcon Odhiambo And Rushdie Oudia
Via Daily Nation