The government and the opposition on Tuesday took an important step in reconciliation and ensuring a peaceful election next year.
Cord leader Raila Odinga accepted the report of a joint select committee of Parliament and promised his full support to ensure its passage and implementation. The opposition now wants new commissioners recruited by the end of next month.
Mr Odinga also used the party’s parliamentary group meeting attended by governors, MPs and senators, to reiterate that the 2017 election, unlike nine years ago, will be peaceful, with the loser congratulating the winner.
He urged MPs to approve the report “without even changing a comma or a full stop” and similarly challenged the Jubilee coalition to rally its lawmakers to endorse the proposed reforms.
The report is expected to be debated in both the Senate and the National Assembly on Wednesday before proposed legislation to facilitate its implementation is drafted.
On Tuesday, Mr Odinga and his co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula, after their meeting at Ufungamano House, announced that all Cord MPs and senators will support the report as it is.
“We want to lend total support to the committee report. We want it passed without the amendment of a comma or a full stop as it is so that the process can move faster,” Mr Odinga told journalists after meeting MPs.
Even though the opposition did not get everything they had demanded, he said, the report represented the best compromise.
If it is implemented, he added, the country will have a professionally managed election where losers will be happy to congratulate the winner so that the country moves forward peacefully.
“We have had perennial problems with elections in Africa. The other day we were in Zambia. We are hopeful that these process will allow the democratic will of the people to be exercised,” he said.
He reminded the meeting of his pledge together with President Uhuru Kenyatta to ensure peaceful 2017 elections and said the reforms will end the cycle of violence that has marked previous elections.
“Like I said when I met the President yesterday (Monday) we don’t want to see Kenyans lose blood in the process of elections. We want the next elections to be very peaceful. We expect a situation where whoever has won will be congratulated by those who would have lost. As we have said before, we are democrats,” he said.
He challenged Jubilee to make the same pledge, adding that Cord was determined to win. “Jubilee should be prepared to accept defeat as we are confident of winning the next elections,” he said.
The Cord leader pleaded with MPs to allow the committee chaired by Siaya Senator James Orengo and his Meru counterpart Kiraitu Murungi to stay on to oversee the implementation of the report.
NEGOTIATED IN GOOD FAITH
Mr Musyoka said despite shortcomings, the report was negotiated in good faith and the opposition will lend its full support.
We are determined to have a new commission in place by latest September 30, to give the new team an opportunity to participate in 2017 election preparations,” he said.
Although the President has the powers under the Constitution to make appointments as proposed, the opposition will play some role, he said.
Mr Wetang’ula similarly declared that he was happy with the report and urged the two Houses to pass it as proposed by the committee.
“I do hope that the two Houses will both honour, debate and approve the report without questions,” Mr Wetang’ula said.
Mr Orengo said contrary to speculation, the team worked for the opposition gains including the fact that the commission, led by Mr Ahmed Issack Hassan, must now go home.
“The clarion call was that IEBC must go. This is something we have achieved,” said the Siaya senator.
He also said a legal mechanism that would clear the way for free and fair elections had been put in place through laws that will now be passed by Parliament.
Homa Bay Town MP Opondo Kaluma said a key gain that came through the committee was the proposal to have election results declared at polling centres taken much more seriously than in the previous election.
“Even if the President appoints the commissioners, the result declared at the polling centres will now be final,” he said.