Poll reforms still on, ODM insists

ODM leader Raila Odinga appends his signature in support of the BBI Bill at KICC Nairobi.

Photo credit: Courtesy

What you need to know:

  • The BBI, he said, has sections on policy proposals, legislative amendments and constitutional changes.
  • Mr Odinga in his speech extolled the benefits of parties appointing top IEBC officials.

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga’s camp says the deletion of a proposal to have political parties nominate electoral agency commissioners from the constitutional amendment Bill does not imply the end of its quest for poll reforms.

Mr Odinga’s allies say reforming the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) can still be done through Parliament, adding that the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report details constitutional, legal and administrative changes.

Was shortchanged

The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga unveiled on Wednesday dropped the proposal to have party representatives sit in IEBC.

That drew suggestions that the ODM leader was shortchanged. Mr Odinga in his speech extolled the benefits of parties appointing top IEBC officials.

The Nation has learnt that the drivers of the BBI agreed that some of the issues that were not captured in the Bill, and which don’t require a referendum, will be addressed via legislation.

“Because appointment of commissioners is not a constitutional matter, the proposals are still on, but not in the Bill,” ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna said on the push to trigger changes.

The BBI, he said, has sections on policy proposals, legislative amendments and constitutional changes.

“What we did on Wednesday was launch the constitutional amendment Bill,” Mr Sifuna told the Nation

“Therefore, you’ll not find anything to do with IEBC in the Bill. We have a Bill on filling the four vacancies that had been approved in Parliament and not a referendum.”

Mr Sifuna added that politicians allied to Deputy President William Ruto are looking for anything to proclaim victory “in order to save face”.

“They’re the ones who’ve been saying the country does not need a referendum. When we separate the issues, they say we have been shortchanged,” he said.

In a statement by his spokesperson Dennis Onyango, Mr Odinga said he was party to the changes on the composition of the electoral agency in the draft Bill and had not been duped.

“We’ve received enquiries about the views expressed by Mr Raila Odinga yesterday, particularly on the constitution of the IEBC and whether those views indicated he was not party to the contents of the Bill,” Mr Onyango said.

“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.”

Mr Onyango added that the ODM leader “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 made the point that not all views, however strongly held — including his — were accepted into the Bill. It should not be a reason for actors to oppose the process,” Mr Onyango said.

Transparent elections

Mr Odinga had said parties are the main actors in elections and must be given a chance to play a part in IEBC recruitment.

He said the last transparent elections the country had were in 2002 when the Electoral Commission of Kenya was composed of people appointed by the Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group (IPPG).

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