, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 8 – A day after the Opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) crafted a motion to be forwarded to County Assemblies which among other things would push for the review of the Constitution to expand the structure of the Executive, it has now emerged that the alliance wants a six-month transitional government.
In an interview with Reuters, NASA leader Raila Odinga proposed the formation of an interim government to be comprised of the ruling Jubilee Party and NASA, before a fresh presidential election is conducted.
“The reforms we’re calling for require a longer time and in the meantime, we need to have an interim arrangement of governance which will involve representatives from both parties,” he said during the interview conducted at his Capitol Hill office on Tuesday.
“We think that maybe six months will be required to carry out all the changes we need in this country so that we can have proper free and fair election,” Odinga added.
According to the Opposition chief, the fresh presidential election conducted on October 26 – regardless of the outcome of petitions challenging it at the Supreme Court – will not guarantee President Kenyatta the confidence to rule the nation owing to the low voter turnout witnessed in the election.
Odinga announced his withdrawal from the election on October 10, calling for his supporters to boycott the election on grounds that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had failed to address its list of demands before the poll is held.
Odinga had among other things listed the resignation of IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba, procurement of election technology and ballot papers from different firms other than the ones that were contracted by the poll agency as among twelve “irreducible minimums” to be addressed before the fresh poll.
The demands were drafted by NASA after the alliance successfully challenged at the Supreme Court, the initial re-election of President Kenyatta in the August 8 presidential election.
Chief Justice David Maraga and three other judges of the apex court nullified the August 8 presidential election citing irregularities and illegalities committed during the poll, in a ruling rendered on September 1.
The court ordered IEBC to organize a fresh election within sixty days in strict compliance to the law.
Following a detailed ruling by the court on September 20, IEBC announced that it would be undertaking a raft of reforms including suspending and taking disciplinary action against officials whose conduct during the poll is found to be wanting.
IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati later appointed a seven-member project team to be headed by Deputy CEO Hussein Marjan, leaving out Chiloba amid anti-IEBC protests calling for the resignation of Chiloba.
The Commission also dropped over 200 poll officials who included Constituency Returning Officers and Presiding Officers in charge of polling centers in a bid to ensure a credible election.
“We have vetted those who had mistakes and they will not be included in this election,” then-Commissioner Roselyn Akombe revealed on October 13 during an engagement with election observers at a Nairobi hotel.
The Commission also reviewed its training curriculum and trained all its Returning Officer in Nairobi at a go in a move Chebukati said was geared towards enhancing compliance to election processes and procedures.
“The Commission came up with a matrix of areas we need to focus which include the standardization of forms, signing, and results transmission,” Chebukati told the press during a training session on October 6.
It is during the session that Chebukati unveiled a reconstituted seven-member project team in which three initial members (Nancy Kariuki, Bernard Moseti and Silas Rotich who had been listed in the initial project coordination team as heads of logistics, training and the National Tallying Centre respectively) were dropped with Marjan maintaining his slot as the head of the team.
The team comprised of Albert Gogo and Sydney Namulungu who were in the previous team released on September 5 have also been retained, the former maintaining his role as the coordinator of election technology whereas the latter has been assigned the coordination of activities at the National Tallying Centre.
Other officers named in the new poll team were David Towett (Head of Operations), Tabitha Mutemi (Communication and Outreach), Salome Oyugi (Legal and Compliance) and Agatha Wahome (Finance, Procurement, and Administration).
Chebukati also confirmed that the Commission had replaced all interdicted poll officials with new ones from the Commission headquarters as it gears for the Oct 26 presidential election.
“There’s a team that has been recruited to replace interdicted officials and some of them are staff we’ve deployed from our headquarters. All of these officers are part of the training we’ve commenced today,” he said.
“After the Supreme Court judgment, I promised internal changes and that is what I have done today. I have a team different from the one that managed the August 8 election and as far as I am concerned that is the team that will now push and deliver the fresh election,” he added.
IEBC, however, had to grapple with internal wrangles which culminated into the resignation of Commissioner Akombe while overseeing ballot printing alongside Commissioner Abdi Guliye in Dubai.
Akombe fled to the US citing partisan politics within IEBC and security concerns.
Following Akombe’s resignation, Chebukati issued a statement on October 18 confirming that he had indeed faced resistance implementing changes within the commission but however insisted that the poll will continue as scheduled while asking officials interdicted to step aside and allow his project team to function.
“I am convinced that without critical changes in key Secretariat staff we may not have a free, fair and credible election. I ask the staff who have been adversely mentioned to step aside and allow the project team to function without interference,” he told a press conference.
Commission CEO later took leave, a week to the poll in what appeared to be a decision he took to allow the Hussein Marjan-led fresh election project team.
Already, the NASA which launched a boycott of certain companies through its newly launched National Resistance Movement has forwarded a motion to allow for the adoption of People’s Assemblies nationwide to champion constitutional review.
During the interview, Odinga said he was open to talks with Jubilee.
“It depends on Jubilee; if they’re ready for serious discussion, we will be ready. If they want to protract it, it will be very protracted. What I want to assure them is that we will not surrender until our movement achieves what we want,” he said.