Raila sets 2024 deadline to reform IEBC, Judiciary ahead of 2027 polls

Raila Odinga

Azimio la Umoja Coalition leader Raila Odinga (standing) with elected leaders during their parliamentary group meeting at Stoni Athi Resort in Machakos yesterday. With him is Jubilee sec-gen Jeremiah Kioni (left), Narc-Kenya party leader Martha Karua and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka.


Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga is back in the political scene with a new rallying call to his supporters.

Mr Odinga has mooted plans for major institutional reforms at the Judiciary and the electoral commission that could see a total overhaul of their current structures.

The Azimio coalition has set a 2024 deadline to push for the planned reforms, which some officials have indicated could entail sending home the entire Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) team and having another one in place at least three years to the 2027 General Election.

The Saturday Nation has learnt that some of the proposed reforms include reverting to pure manual voting and transmission of results, from the current hybrid of manual voting and electronic transmission, as well as redefining the role of presiding officers (POs) in declaration of poll results.

Mr Odinga’s team is mulling over two paths in achieving its reforms agenda; the parliamentary route or a popular initiative track, which would culminate into a referendum.

The coalition, which lost the presidency to the Kenya Kwanza Alliance in the August 9 elections, argues that the polls were manipulated at polling stations and at the transmission stage after the electronic system was allegedly hijacked by external forces.

The coalition argues that the fact that POs are poorly paid and are temporary staff only hired during elections, makes them prone to compromise by the political class, yet they perform a critical role since results announced at polling stations are final and cannot be changed even by the IEBC chairman. 

Raila lambasts Judiciary for second consecutive day

At the Judiciary, there is a suggestion for a radical surgery similar to the one implemented in 2003 to get rid of corrupt judges. The coalition claims that the Judiciary has been infiltrated by external forces and was no longer working independently.

Arriving back from holiday in Zanzibar on Thursday, Mr Odinga indicated that he could marshal a one million people march to the Judiciary to force out “rogue” Supreme Court judges.

It was Mr Odinga’s first public address after the September 5 Supreme Court judgement that upheld William Ruto’s election as president.

The Azimio team has criticised the “demeaning language” used by the seven apex court judges, maintaining that it has eroded confidence in the Judiciary and scared away other poll losers who had planned to file petitions in lower courts.

In separate interviews, Jubilee secretary-general Jeremiah Kioni and head of Mr Odinga’s 2022 campaign secretariat and former Laikipia governor Ndiritu Muriithi, said there was a general consensus within Azimio that the country cannot go for another election with the Judiciary and IEBC in their current state.

The fresh push to reform the two institutions was at the heart of Azimio’s retreat in Machakos County yesterday that was attended by Mr Odinga, Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua and Wiper boss Kalonzo Musyoka.

“You have noticed the corruption, incompetence and capture of the IEBC. You have noticed the corruption and thuggery of the Supreme Court judges. The words used against us have never been used in our courts even in the dark days of single party rule,” Mr Odinga told Azimio lawmakers yesterday.  "We will talk. The constitution of this country gives power to the people of Kenya, and all the other people exercising power are exercising donated power. So the Judiciary is no exception, if they become rogue, we have power as the people of this country to reform them or send them home,” said Mr Odinga in Mombasa on Thursday. Yesterday, allies of President William Ruto accused Mr Odinga of undermining independent institutions. Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said the threats could result in a political crisis and anarchy.

Karua: EACJ will decide if Supreme Court was right

He said Azimio was free to initiate reforms but through the provided channels without bashing state officers in public rallies.

“The 2010 constitution is a progressive document. The problem is not these institutions but non-acceptance of election results by Raila. The agenda of Tinga (Raila) is to create crisis and anarchy by undermining institutions yet he has no substantive reasons as to why he wants to do it because he lost the election,” said Mr Cherargei.

The Kenya Kwanza Alliance says reforms touching on public institutions will have to be subjected to public participation to avoid being abused by the political class.  Mr Odinga yesterday said the Judiciary has offered itself for capture by the Executive. "Parliament must stand up and preserve our multi-party politics. When the law does not rule, thuggery does. We have a responsibility as Azimio to take charge and use our majority in Parliament to keep this government in check."

Mr Odinga claimed that the Judiciary, as presently constituted, was already under the capture of the Executive, adding that the recent swearing-in of judges by President Ruto is an attempt to take control of courts.

"There is a push by the Executive to own the Judiciary through illegal actions that amount to bribery, that is why there was a rushed decision to swear in judges and allocate funds to the Judiciary. It is a plain attempt to capture the Judiciary through bribery," he added.

Mr Kioni said the country has to revert to manual voting and transmission of results to avert what “happened in the concluded elections”.

He said it is only through manual elections that the outcome will not be remotely determined by hired foreigners.

“Without any doubt, we will join hands to reform IEBC so that we don’t have a system that can be remotely controlled. Electronic voting can be manipulated but still present figures that look genuine. There are many developed countries that started with electronic election but reverted to manual after they realised the mess,” said Mr Kioni. He claimed that the Judiciary has been heavily infiltrated, citing the Supreme Court ruling on the presidential election.

Mr Kioni said strong words used by the court were unprecedented and sign that the Judiciary has been infiltrated.

“How can the Judiciary be so arrogant to the extent of insulting the petitioners? Those things tell you that the system has been infiltrated from somewhere. There are many people who want to petition; how do you appear before such an institution if they can see your petition as hot air and wild goose chase?” posed Mr Kioni.

Mr Muriithi said the reforms they seek are for posterity and to ensure voters have confidence in the electoral process.

He said the fact that commissioners and other senior IEBC staff end up resigning after elections was a sign of governance dysfunctionality at IEBC.

“This is a breakdown in governance. IEBC requires review and reforms in its structure. One needs to look at the work of IEBC. It needs deep institutional reforms,” said Mr Muriithi.

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