The game of political brinkmanship continued on Wednesday, putting in jeopardy the possibility of holding a peaceful and mutually accepted repeat presidential election on October 17.
The opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa), in a clear hardening of its position, said not only will it not participate in the fresh election if its demands are not met, but it will also not allow Jubilee to go to the polls alone.
It was not immediately clear what the coalition’s principals meant by “not allowing” the repeat polls until their demands — which include sacking and prosecuting elections officials found culpable of bungling the nullified presidential poll of August 8 — are met.
President Uhuru Kenyatta immediately dismissed Nasa’s threat as “continuous antagonising” of Kenyans.
Speaking moments after meeting at Nakuru State Lodge, he categorically stated: “We are ready for the October 17 election.”
Caught in the middle, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which must obey the orders of the Supreme Court and hold an election before November 1, has invited the coalition’s leadership for talks over the matter today but Nasa co-principal Musalia Mudavadi said they would not attend.
Earlier Wednesday, Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga and two of his co-principals, Mr Mudavadi and Mr Moses Wetang’ula, were adamant that they will not allow elections to take place without the changes they have demanded at IEBC, accusing some of its officials of being partisan.
But they did not reveal the method they will use to scuttle the election.
Speaking on KTN television on Tuesday night, Mr Odinga had said Nasa had resolved that there will be no election until their demands are met.
“We are not boycotting the election,” Mr Odinga clarified. “We said we want to participate but under certain conditions that will ensure the election is free, fair and credible.”
An election requires a contest between parties, added the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader.
“We want to go to an election when the playing field is level,” said Mr Odinga. “Last time, it was not, and the evidence we produced in court was enormous. We are not ready to go back to a charade and would rather have no election.”
Speaking on Wednesday after attending a Nasa parliamentary group meeting at the Okoa Kenya offices in Nairobi, Mr Wetang’ula backed his leader.
“Nasa wishes to inform Kenyans that there will be no polls if the concerns raised in our petition are not met,” said the Ford-Kenya party leader. “We will not only boycott the elections, but we will also not allow an election that does not meet the constitutional threshold.”
The Bungoma senator added: “We will not participate in any election that is a ritual to come up with computer-generated leaders. No accountability, no elections.”
Mr Odinga declined to comment on whether he would call for mass demonstrations should the IEBC not address their concerns, only saying: “We will deal with that when time comes.”
But, in Nakuru , President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto said they were ready for the elections and asked Nasa to stop issuing unnecessary demands.
They chided the Opposition for holding press conferences in Nairobi instead of campaigning.
“We have already hit the ground while our colleagues in the Opposition are still wasting their energies issuing statements in press conferences in Nairobi,” said President Kenyatta. “We are ready for the polls. This is why we have embarked on campaigns.”
Addressing Nakuru residents at Free Area, the president castigated Nasa leaders for “continuously antagonising Kenyans” who want to move on with their day-to-day activities, saying elections should not derail the development agenda of the country.
He urged the Opposition to allow Kenyans to make the final decision on who will be their president by taking part in the elections.
“Let us go to the people, who will say the truth through the ballot box on October 17,” said President Kenyatta. “They are the final decision-makers.”
He said the Opposition had nothing new to offer Kenyans, adding: “They know we will beat them; that is why they are now claiming that they will not participate in the October polls.”
Meanwhile, as Jubilee and Nasa wrangled, the IEBC, which handed the two parties its plan for the poll, was training county election managers — an indication that they have begun preparations for October 17.
The commission’s CEO, Mr Ezra Chiloba, confirmed that they had invited Nasa for talks at 8am Thursday.
“How do they send a letter asking for a meeting just a day after we came to their offices but they were not ready to meet us?,” wondered Mr Wetang’ula and stated: “This is the State capture we have been talking about. We will meet them when we are ready.”
In its nine-page memorandum, Nasa also wants printing of the ballot papers not done by Dubai’s Al-Ghurair, which was contracted in the August 8 elections.
Opposition will not only boycott fresh election but block it altogether, if it fails in getting changes.