All parties must pick IEBC team, Raila tells Ruto

Raila Odinga

Azimio leader Raila Odinga addresses supporters in Narok town yesterday.

Photo credit: John Njoroge | Nation Media Group

Opposition leader Raila Odinga now wants the current process of selecting electoral commissioners stopped, and all political parties allowed to choose the poll referees in what will mirror the model used in 1997.

The 1997 Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group (IPPG) broke the stalemate between President Daniel arap Moi’s government and an opposition agitating for reforms, backed by a vibrant civil society.

Now, Mr Odinga wants a stop to the current process, where President William Ruto has already appointed a seven-member selection panel to pick the chairman and six Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners.

“Kenya does not belong to one person. We must end the culture of stealing votes and that is why we want IEBC commissioners to be selected by all political parties and not a unilateral decision,” said Mr Odinga in Narok yesterday where he addressed rallies in Ewaso Ngiro, Ntulele and Narok Town.

He added: “We don’t want another Chebukati to be imposed to the IEBC by the Kenya Kwanza government. Azimio must sit on the table to select new commissioners.”

He repeated his claim that a whistle-blower had shown he had garnered 8.1 million votes against Dr Ruto’s 5.9 million, which, he says, can only be disputed by opening of poll servers.

In the Narok rallies, Mr Odinga appealed to the Maasai community to support his mass action call by turning out in large numbers on March 20 in Nairobi to protest the high cost of living.

Mr Odinga said he is optimistic that other Kenyans will also come to Nairobi.

“I urge all Kenyans to come out and demand their rights and prove to the Kenya Kwanza government that what is happening in the country is a violation of their freedom. There is hope of big change in the way because this country is being mismanaged.”

He was accompanied by Azimio leaders including Ms Martha Karua, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, Mr Wycliffe Oparanya, Siaya Governor James Orengo, Narok Senator Ledama Olekina and the Roots Party of Kenya chief George Wajackoyah.

“We need to unite as Kenyans as the 14 days’ notice I issued to this government, which I don’t recognise, has been ignored even as the cost of basic food items like maize flour, sugar, cooking oil and school fees are rising daily,” said Mr Odinga.

He accused the President of launching a propaganda campaign to discredit the opposition and sacking those who don’t support the government and replacing them on a tribal basis.

Ms Karua accused Mr Chebukati and the Supreme Court of failing to stand with the truth.

“Now what is remaining is the court of public opinion and that is why Azimio is planning for peaceful mass action to avoid stealing of votes in future general elections and reduce hunger in the country,” said Ms Karua.

“Mass action is guaranteed in the Constitution and security personnel should refrain themselves from stopping the [Nairobi] rally.”

Mr Musyoka echoed Ms Karua’s sentiments, reminding the police that the Kenya Kwanza government had promised to increase their salaries but instead has changed their health insurance provider as they suffer.