Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) principals have declined an invite to a multi-sectoral summit on elections, terming the organiser an appendage of the Jubilee administration.
The matter also raised storm in the National Assembly when Majority Leader Aden Duale said that a text message sent by Minority Whip Thomas Mwadeghu to all Cord MPs to boycott the event, was akin to the team endorsing election-related violence.
The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) has organised a two-day summit from Friday at the Leisure Lodge Resort, Mombasa.
In their statement, Cord leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula said that they did not trust Kepsa to be an impartial and a fair referee in a discussion on the 2017 General Election.
“We do not view your Organisation, Kepsa, as having the requisite impartiality to lead a national non-partisan discourse on the topics under discussion. We view Kepsa as an appendage of the Jubilee administration,” the leaders said in a joint letter sent to chief executive Carole Kariuki.
“Our country is crying for honest and credible referees on the way to 2017 elections. We do not view Kepsa as such a referee,” they said.
The private sector lobby group had invited the Cord leaders, President Uhuru Kenyatta, members of Parliament and representatives of members of the county assemblies to the meeting on “peaceful election, national cohesion and unity for social economic development.”
The Cord leaders faulted Kepsa’s approach in the fight against corruption and Cord’s push for credible elections in August.
“Indeed, your discussion is limited to “peaceful election” while it should be primarily on “credible election”. If you ensure that there are credible elections, you will not have to be concerned about peaceful elections because the latter is an inevitable result of the former,” they said.
In Parliament, Mr Mwadeghu was on Thursday revealed to have sent a message to all Cord MPs asking them to skip the meeting, irking Mr Duale.
“This is a meeting on peaceful elections and national cohesion for the counties. The opposite of that, because I went to school, is that they believe in post-election violence. Today, I want to hear the voices of the Opposition,” said Mr Duale, kick-starting the stormy session.
Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo however said he had not seen the text message and would be attending the conference in Diani.
But Mr Mwadeghu was defiant, saying that while the Opposition would not want violence, the conference organised by Kepsa comes at the wrong time.
“The country is sinking and we in the Opposition are not the ones making it sink. It is you in the Jubilee Coalition, because of corruption,” said Mr Mwadgehu.
He said that given the tension between the Opposition and Jubilee, there are likely to be heated debates rather than cordial discussions at the coast.
“People might say what is in their hearts and minds in this season of politics. We should have discussed these things here,” he added.
The Cord leaders further went for Kepsa’s heart, accusing them of little concern for the opposition’s activities.
“You have never shown interest in our public engagements on our programmes beyond cosmetic appearance at best and you have not treated the Opposition as a legitimate entity with meaningful contribution to our national development,” the Cord team said.
They went on: “The only time we get to hear from you is when the disagreements over national issues between the government and the Opposition generate political heat that threatens the tranquility in which the interest of your members thrive.”