NAIROBI Kenya’s Opposition leader Raila Odinga, says the ruling government has “no choice” but to concede and discuss their demands for changes and disbandment of the electoral commission.
“They have no choice….They will have to agree to sit down and negotiate,”
Kenya police was engaged in running battles with protesters loyal to Odinga and his opposition league; Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) in Nairobi and across leading cities and townships around the country.
Three people died under unclear circumstances as score were left critically injured.
“And if the police allow these demonstrations, they will be really very peaceful, and they will just agree with us, you start from point A to point B, at this time,” Odinga said in an interview with the Voice of America (VOA). “And people will do those demonstrations the way they do it in London, they way they do it in New York, the way they do it in Tokyo and so on.” he went on
Odinga’s CORD coalition has been organizing the protests to demand changes in the electoral commission, which opposition parties say favors the ruling Jubilee coalition led under President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy William Ruto.
Kenyatta in a statement said the opposition leaders participated in the passage of the current constitution and it clearly sets out the procedures to be followed if one wants to disband IEBC. He said protesters are breaking the law.
“I took an oath to defend the Constitution and will not break the law nor allow others to do so. We cannot agree to do that which is against the law and our Constitution just to please a few individuals,” President Kenyatta said.
Odinga said the protests will not rest because CORD wants a level playing field before presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for August of 2017.
“So we will continue for as long as it takes. We will not surrender. That is not an option.”
To do so, he says he and his supporters want the current nine full-time electoral commissioners to step down and be replaced with five new ones that act more like an executive board. They also want the multiple voter registers to be supplanted by a single accurate one, and for the electronic voting process to be smoothed out before election day.
If the playing field is leveled, Odinga says, then the politicians, including himself, should accept the results of the elections, whatever they may be.
“Why is it so difficult here in Africa? It can be done,” said Odinga. “What we are seeing happening right now is the emergence of the strongmen on the continent. You saw what happened in Burundi, you saw what happened in Uganda, what is about to happen to DRC. It is happening around the whole region and the continent. And we’re saying that this is not right for democracy. Africans should not be judged by different standards from the rest of the world. Africa needs to be recognized as part and parcel of the international community.”
Odinga says that his coalition’s protests will continue every Monday until the demands are met.
Credit: Voice of America