Hopes of ending the stalemate on the fate of the electoral agency have faded with the ruling Jubilee alliance’s insistence it will not discuss the removal of the commissioners outside Parliament.
While some business owners in Nairobi’s city centre, especially those in and around the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Anniversary Towers headquarters are worried about looters, security officials have promised robust action against violent protesters despite widespread criticism of police brutality in last week’s demonstration.
ODM Director of Elections Junet Mohamed told the Sunday Nation that Cord is waiting for the government to start dialogue despite President Uhuru Kenyatta indicating the opposition should go through Parliament.
“It is all in the President’s hands, a dialogue that will see both sides agree on the way forward will be the cure for the demonstrations. For now they will continue,” he said.
Mr Mohamed said the Parliament route would only be possible if the President told the Jubilee majority in the National Assembly to support a petition against the IEBC.
“There has to be goodwill from the top leadership. The President has to take the responsibility of initiating the process,” he said.
Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar accused Jubilee of using its numerical strength to brush aside the views of the minority in the House.
“Having a majority in the House does not mean the views of the minority should not be considered, especially when those issues affect a referee of elections,” he said.
Mr Hassan said forces outside Parliament were dictating Jubilee’s actions, making it difficult to reach consensus in the House.
However, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria asked why Cord had dismissed the Parliament route without even trying.
“Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem MP and Cord deputy Minority Leader) was ready to bring a Bill to Parliament but was stopped by the three Cord principals,” he said.
Even as he spoke, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr warned of a bigger constitutional crisis if the bid to remove the commissioners fails.
NO ROOM FOR DIALOGUEHe said with parliamentarians leaving in May 2017 ahead of the August 2017 General Election, it would mean by the time the term of commissioners ends in November 2017 there would not be enough time for Parliament to preside over the change of guard at the commission in case of a run-off.
“If there is a run-off, there will be an even bigger crisis. Now they are talking across each other from Mandera to Nairobi, without focusing on the bigger issue,” he said.
He was alluding to President Kenyatta’s statement in Mandera on Thursday that he had no power to disband the IEBC.
Senate Majority Leader Prof Kithure Kindiki said Cord was being insincere as the Independent Review Commission, formed after the 2007/2008 post-election violence and chaired by South African judge Johann Kriegler, had warned against disbanding the commission two years before elections.
“It is inconceivable to put in place a new commission a year to elections. It’s a policy organ, if you want to bring in new people it will not work unless you postpone the elections,” he said.
He dismissed Cord’s calls for dialogue, saying there is no room for this under the Constitution.
“President Daniel Moi used the Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group because it was easy to change the Act of Parliament that established the electoral commission then. The current commission is embedded in the Constitution which clipped Presidential powers,” he said.
He said if the commission was replaced without following the rules, the courts would likely reject the new team.
He also scoffed at suggestions that political parties can nominate new commissioners.
“If political parties nominate commissioners, then it will cease to be independent,” he said.
Nyeri Senator Mutahi Kagwe said President Kenyatta should not be pressured to act outside the Constitution.
Maara MP Kareke Mbiuki repeated calls by some Jubilee MPs last week that the election be moved from August to December to allow time for preparations if there were changes at the IEBC.
Oljororok MP John Waiganjo disagreed with church leaders who have volunteered to mediate talks between the IEBC and the Opposition.
Mr Waiganjo said the church was in no position to do so as the law is clear on reforms for constitutional bodies.
Starehe MP Maina Kamanda said Cord co-principals Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula must compensate business people whose property was looted in the protests.
“These are no longer demonstrations but looting sprees,” he said Saturday.
Source: The Nation