, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 12 – They might not have sat across the table from each other on Tuesday but on the bright side, there was consensus right off the bat – from the October 17 presidential contenders – that a meeting between them and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission was overdue.
The two – Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta’s running mate Deputy President William Ruto – may have missed each other by minutes at the meeting planned for Tuesday but in their separate briefings to the press, they were both amenable to scheduling another sit-down; when they’d had a chance to look through the IEBC’s agenda.
“I want to assure you that as NASA we are ready to have a structured meeting where all the cards are on the table,” Odinga’s National Super Alliance co-principal Musalia Mudavadi stated after they’d staged a walk-out in protest of Ruto keeping them waiting for an hour.
His expression of a willingness and readiness for the two opposing sides to meet was echoed by Ruto when he arrived later. “We have agreed with the IEBC that they will reschedule this meeting. In any case it will give us time to look through the agenda items they have provided so in the course of the week we can have an interactive session.”
Both parties were also in agreement that the IEBC needed to be better prepared the next time it extended them an invitation.
“We are of the view that the IEBC was not quite ready for this meeting and they have given us a document that we are seeing for the first time,” Mudavadi stated as a visibly upset Odinga and running mate Kalonzo Musyoka looked on.
And it was on account of this disorganisation, Ruto stated, that he was unable to make it for Tuesday’s meeting on time.
“The meeting was confirmed last evening. We had already scheduled a Parliamentary Group meeting this morning. It took longer than we thought. But you can see me here; it is not that we were trying to run away from the meeting. It’s just that the meeting was confirmed late.”
It however remains to be seen if the said goodwill will be carried into the boardroom when the two parties eventually sit across from one another.
One of the contentious points will undoubtedly be who will be directly involved in managing the operations of the October 17 repeat presidential poll, following the annulment of the August 8 outcome.
NASA has been categorical that they will not participate in the poll if Commission Chief Executive Ezra Chiloba remains in office while the Jubilee Party had taken issue with the separate project team appointed by IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati to manage the election.
On Tuesday however, Ruto made it clear that their position on the project team – unlike NASA’s position on Chiloba – was far from non-negotiable.
He explained that they opposed the project team on the strength of information that its creation was not a unanimous decision of the Commission.
He also sought to play down his attacks on Chebukati’s credibility, stating that it was not “personal” when he alleged the Commissioner had held night meetings with the Opposition before going on to assure the Commission in its entirety of Jubilee’s “moral support.”