Raila Odinga agrees to talks on one condition

Nasa leader Raila Odinga has said he is ready for dialogue with the Jubilee Party on the fresh presidential poll if the ruling coalition drops its plans to change the electoral laws.

Mr Odinga on Friday accused the Jubilee administration of a plot to water down the Constitution following its decision to amend the law to radically change the management of elections ahead of the October 26 poll.

The Supreme Court on September 1 nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory following the August 8 election, citing irregularities and illegalities and ordered a fresh election within 60 days.

RESULTS TRANSMISSION
Mr Odinga has however insisted on a raft of changes in the electoral agency before going into the repeat poll.

Speaking a day after Jubilee-allied MPs endorsed the creation of a special committee to scrutinise a proposed change to the law on elections, Mr Odinga accused Jubilee of acting in bad faith and “changing the rules of the game midway”.

The contentious bill sponsored by Jubilee seeks to reduce the powers of the electoral agency’s chairman and entrench the manual system of transmitting results.

MANUAL SYSTEM
The proposed law, which is being considered by the National Assembly, seeks to make it possible for the vice chairman of the agency to act as the chairman in the absence of the chairman.

If both the chairman and the vice chairman are absent, the rest of the members of the commission would elect one of them as the chairman.

The change would also make it possible for at least three commissioners to make a decision as the commission by lowering the quorum for its meetings from five to half of the existing members but not less than three.

On result transmission, it says although both electronic and manual systems will be used, the manual one takes precedence in case of conflict.

DIALOGUE

The electronic transmission of results was entrenched in the election laws after a long struggle by the Opposition who saw it as a bulwark against tampering.

Mr Odinga termed the proposed law an act of extreme provocation.

The Nasa chief was speaking in a meeting convened by the Anglican Church of Kenya led by Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit, in which the clergy asked the Opposition to drop its calls for mass action and embrace dialogue.

CLERGY

He was accompanied by his co-principal Musalia Mudavadi.

“There is no need to change the goal post when the Supreme Court has already implicated the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

“What is being brought back is a manual system of voting of the pre-1997 era,” Mr Odinga said at All Saints Cathedral.

And speaking after the meeting, Archbishop Sapit said the stance taken by the Opposition and Jubilee’s plan to amend the law were uncalled for.

PROTESTS
The cleric also reiterated calls for the poll commission to put its house in order and sack those found culpable for bungling the August poll to redeem its image.

“We ask Nasa to disengage from calls for street protests and that Jubilee relaxes its hard line stance and embrace dialogue,” he said.

Mr Odinga also defended the calls for mass action, saying they were backed by the Constitution.

The President insisted that the electoral body should be allowed to oversee the fresh presidential polls.

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