President Uhuru Kenyatta has defended the proposed controversial changes to electoral laws amid spirited opposition from various quarters.
At a rally in Busia on Friday, the president told a crowd the changes would help prevent future mistakes in elections by placing criminal responsibility on electoral officials who refuse to follow regulations.
“We are seeking to ensure officials who refuse to sign forms are punished for it. What is wrong with that? We want them to go to jail for five years if they refuse to do their job. Aren’t these the things our opponents complained about?”
The president argued mistakes realised in last month’s elections will be cured by changing the law.
The proposed changes have elicited criticism from opposition National Super Alliance, who have accused the ruling party of changing the rules of the game at halftime.
They have specifically opposed changes to enable IEBC vice chairperson to do the job of the chairman if the chairman is away or unable to work.
President Kenyatta said the changes to the electoral law will guarantee transparency by curbing any form of malpractices.
The president also said an election was about, and belonged to the Kenyan people and not the candidates.
“There is no way that the government will allow any person to block any voter from exercising their right to choose the leader or leaders of their choice,” the President said.
President Kenyatta, accompanied by Deputy President William Ruto, spoke as he formally received to Jubilee Paul Otuoma, the former MP who narrowly lost in the Busia gubernatorial election and other opposition leaders from the county.
Mr Ruto said the opposition was not ready for elections because it has already sensed defeat.
He accused National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga of plotting to cause chaotic to get into power through the backdoor.
“They have resorted to engaging in demonstrations with the aim of causing chaos and bloodshed with the hope of making the country ungovernable so that they can negotiate for a ‘nusu mkate’ government. But that will not happen,” he said.
He told Mr Odinga to stop misleading Kenyans that elections would not take place in October 26, the date set by IEBC, saying no one has powers to interfere with any election in the country.
“I want to tell Mr Odinga that if President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, can’t stop elections in this country, who is he to tell us that he will stop the October 26 elections?” he said.
“Kenyans will go to polls in October 26 whether Mr Odinga participates or not. It is only Kenyans who can stop any election in this country.”
He said Jubilee was ready for the fresh presidential elections as directed by the Supreme Court, urging voters in Busia County to turn out in large numbers and support the re-election of President Kenyatta.
Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa (Water and Irrigation), former ministers Paul Otuoma, Ababu Namwamba, Chris Okemo and Fred Gumo said they would mobilise voters in western Kenya to support the re-election of President Kenyatta.
Mr Otuoma said he has supported Mr Odinga since 1992 but has nothing in terms of development to offer to the people of western Kenya and the country at large.
“My brother William Ruto left us in ODM still singing about baba and now he is the deputy president. We have said enough is enough and this is why we want to support Jubilee, the winning team,” said Mr Otuoma.
“We want to form the next government with the people of Busia being part of President Kenyatta’s transformative agenda.”
Additional reporting by PSCU.
Officials who fail to fill in result forms risk 5 years in jail if proposed law is enacted.