What you need to know:
- Jubilee leaders, including Mr Aden Duale, the Majority Leader in Parliament, defended IEBC over claims that it carried out an election that was neither free nor fair
- On Wednesday, Jubilee members of the National Assembly and the Senate accused the Opposition of a “smear campaign” against the IEBC
The Opposition coalition, Cord, on Wednesday set the stage for a new political duel with the ruling Jubilee Coalition when it announced that it would petition Parliament to disband the electoral commission.
Jubilee leaders, however, said they would defeat any such moves.
Minority Leader Francis Nyenze had led seven Cord MPs in warning that the coalition would not participate in another General Election presided over by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) following claims that the 2013 poll was marred by irregularities. (READ: Shocking new revelations of 2013 election intrigues)
“Media reports have presented detailed evidence of bias and outright fraud in the March 4 elections. We have seen details of ballot-stuffing sufficient to change election results in several constituencies and enough to change balance of power in the country,” the Cord leaders said in a statement to newsrooms.
In their rejoinder at a press conference in Nairobi, Jubilee leaders, including Mr Aden Duale, the Majority Leader in Parliament, defended IEBC over claims that it carried out an election that was neither free nor fair.
They accused Cord of launching a smear campaign against the electoral commission.
The IEBC has since dismissed an audiotape in which an alleged senior official of the commission was recorded saying that last year’s election were marred by irregularities.
The commission has insisted that the elections were free and fair while CEO James Oswago has denied that he is the official quoted in the tape. (VIDEO: Cord takes battle over ‘secret’ tape to Hassan team)
On Wednesday, Mr Nyenze and MPs Paul Otuoma, Abdulsheriff Nassir, Omondi Ogutu, Thomas Mwadeghu, Olago Aluoch, Bernard Katungi and Junet Mohammed said the recordings showed that IEBC was “an incompetent and partisan electoral body.”
“We are not ready to face another election with it,” they said.
The MPs said the possibility of IEBC as currently constituted presiding over another election “is unimaginable and unacceptable” to them.
“We also have a government with a huge credibility gap. How they deal with it is their own problem, but it affects Kenyans,” they said.
NEITHER FREE NOR FAIR
“Although we accepted the results, the elections were neither free nor fair, the IEBC was neither free nor independent and the results were neither credible nor trustworthy,” their statement said.
They said Cord’s insistence on a thorough audit of the 2013 election was not a witch-hunt but a “product of a belief that periodic and genuine democratic elections are the cornerstone of any functioning democracy.
“Kenya does have periodic elections. The problem is that they are not democratic. The last two have not been and the next must not fall into this category.
The party also claimed that voter registration was carried out in a discriminatory manner.
“Millions of people especially the youth, in perceived Cord strongholds, were disenfranchised,” they said.
On Sunday, IEBC released a report saying that 1.7 million eligible voters in Nyanza and Western Kenya failed to sign up as voters. (READ: 1.7m ‘did not register’ to vote in Nyanza)
And on Wednesday, Jubilee members of the National Assembly and the Senate accused the Opposition of a “smear campaign” against the IEBC. They accused Cord of being behind the leaking of the secret voice recording to the media.
TO SET THE STAGE
They also accused some sections of the media and the civil society of being involved in campaigns to have the IEBC dissolved.
“They have one strategy: to set the stage for the dissolution of IEBC by showing that institution in bad light,” said Mr Duale, who led the Jubilee MPs in defending IEBC.
The Garissa Town MP claimed that Cord and the civil society had prepared a petition to be presented to the National Assembly Speaker to have the IEBC disbanded.
He said the process of disbanding IEBC was well spelt out in the Constitution, but Jubilee would not allow the electoral body to be disbanded.
“The Jubilee coalition is not in the business of disbanding institutions just because someone lost an election,” Mr Duale said. “As a coalition, we will protect the institutions and their holders.”
Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said Cord had become an “unfortunate underperformer” in governance.
He asked the opposition to instead provide alternative leadership and keep the government in check.
“The Cord coalition is suffering from serious internal management problems; it is not even three months ago that their elections were bungled by men in black and they therefore do not have the moral high ground to show us how to run elections in this country,” he said.
MP Katoo ole Metito said Cord should not blame the electoral body for its loss, but should instead take the heat to its leader, Mr Raila Odinga.
“If Cord is not happy with the results of their game, they should not be angry with IEBC. Our colleagues must not direct their anger to the referee, they should blame the coach,” he said.
IN THE FIRST ROUND
The Sunday Nation and a local TV station, KTN, ignited the fresh debate over the conduct of last year’s elections by publishing a recording, which alleged that there were glaring irregularities during the polls in which the IEBC said President Uhuru won in the first round after garnering more than 50 per cent plus one votes cast.
Suspended Electoral Commission boss James Oswago has denied he was the one being depicted as a senior IEBC official who was speaking to a top ODM politician in Dholuo in the recording. (READ: Tape is a plot to fix me, IEBC chief now claims)
Mr Oswago accused those behind the recording of targeting him so that he could be removed from IEBC.