Inside Raila's plan to scuttle IEBC process

Azimio leader Raila Odinga addresses a public rally in Siaya Town

Azimio leader Raila Odinga addresses a public rally in Siaya Town on March 14, 2023.

Photo credit: Pool

Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s protests will ultimately narrow down to the push to halt the ongoing recruitment of new electoral commissioners.

Insiders in the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party have framed this demand as an irreducible minimum for the coalition to ease off the pressure on President William Ruto, whom they accuse of orchestrating changes to the law on appointment of electoral commissioners.

One of Mr Odinga’s close allies claimed Dr Ruto’s administration amended the law to influence the hiring of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials to have an edge in the next elections.

Azimio Secretary-General Junet Mohammed said the coalition will not back down on its push to have the process stopped to address their concerns.

Mr Mohammed claimed the selection has been designed to establish“a friendly” IEBC, hence the rush by the Kenya Kwanza administration to amend laws relating to the selection panel.

“What’s the mischief they were curing in changing the electoral law as early as two months after they had come to power?” Mr Mohamed posed. Yesterday, 82 parties defended the election of the Political Parties Liaison Committee representative to the selection panel, Mr Evans Misati. 

Odinga criticised

The parties claimed some Azimio affiliated parties had tried to lobby for the boycott of the election on February 15 in Naivasha and further criticised Mr Odinga for discrediting the process.

“It is worth noting that, before commencement of the voting exercise and even as the voting was going on, there were parties from the Azimio coalition that were lobbying fellow members to boycott the voting process in obedience to a call by Raila Odinga to do so. However, parties ignored this attempt to subvert a constitutional process and proceeded to vote,” read their joint statement.

“We the majority of parties that voted are offended by Raila Odinga’s apparent disregard for a process that already took place and in which 82 parties participated ... and his continued insistence that political parties should be involved in the nomination of IEBC commissioners,” it added. 

Speaking in Bondo in Siaya County yesterday, Mr Odinga said he would be the sacrificial lamb in his quest to liberate Kenyans from a government he feels is insensitive to the needs of common citizen. He made the statement on a day that he asked Kenyans to skip work and join in the protest march next Monday.

To drive his point home, he used a folk tale, narrating how during drought elders had to sacrifice one person and the community settled on a beautiful woman called Waganda.

She was to be taken to the lake and fed to crocodiles but a goat was offered in her place. The move was successful and it rained.

“Just like Waganda, I have decided to be the sacrificial lamb, but I can’t do go on this journey alone. I need my troops behind me because we have to stop some historical injustices in this country once and for all,” said Mr Odinga.

Additional reporting by Rushdie Oudia and Sharon Atieno