Cord summons MPs, senators, governors over referendum

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CORD has summoned all its elected leaders to what it calls a General Assembly at the Bomas of Kenya to seal cracks and rally unity for its OKoa Kenya referendum push.

The meeting will bring together all of Cord’s 24 governors, 27 senators, 136 MPs and 1,200 members of county assemblies at a time when the coalition has stepped up its collection of referendum signatures drive.

It will be the first Cord meeting of such a magnitude and representation since the general election.

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The opposition wants to consolidate its strongholds as it rolls out a charm offensive to buttress support and fight off an anti-referendum onslaught from the ruling Jubilee alliance.

An earlier bonding retreat for Cord governors and senators set for Arusha that was to take place from September 13 to 15 was postponed after coalition principals Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka jetted out to Europe.

Raila flew to Germany on Monday last week while Kalonzo traveled to Britain a day earlier, forcing the organisers of the meeting to change the dates. Kalonzo was back home by the weekend and Raila will return in time for the Thursday assembly.

Top on the agenda will be forging unity for the Okoa Kenya referendum and deliberating on coalition management issues, including funding for Cord secretariat activities and operations.

Also to be thrashed out is the role of senators, governors, MPs and MCAs in the referendum drive, especially after county representatives failed to back either Cord’s or the governors’ referendum bids.

MCAs instead formed a 15-member technical committee to advice them on referendum issues before deciding on a common position.

“We shall meet and address housekeeping matters, some not for public consumption. But, ideally, it is to deliberate on how to work more cohesively to strengthen the coalition. The coalition wants to engage everyone at all levels – and particularly the grassroots,” Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire told the Star on the phone.

Another issue concerns reservations expressed by some Cord governors regarding funding for referendum activities at the county level.

They have claimed that they are either incurring double expenditure in popularizing the referendums or alleged a plot to have them abandon their Pesa Mashinani push in favour of the Okoa Kenya bid.

It is understood the coalition changed the venue for the bonding session form Arusha to the spacious Bomas of Kenya to accommodate MCAs and cut on costs.

Cord MCAs are said to have objected to the Arusha retreat as it was set up for governors and senators, prompting the change of venue to have them attend.

Cord principals Raila, Kalonzo and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula will preside over Thursday’s session to rally their troops to remain steadfast in support of the Okoa Kenya referendum.

An invite from the Cord secretariat seen by the Star reads: “Hon Governor/Senator/MP/MCA, you are kindly invited to a Cord General Assembly scheduled for Thursday, September 25, 2014, at the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, from 8.00am. The Assembly will be presided over by the Cord principals.”

To avert a referendum, Jubilee has promised Sh12 billion worth of goodies to MCAs, including car grants and mortgages among other hefty entitlements provided they reject the public vote. This is to counter offers from the Council of Governors and Cord.

The governors have also lined up a basketful of other favours, including ward development funds and prestige office space for MCAs in return for supporting the Pesa Mashinani referendum.

Cord proposes to strengthen the Senate and make it the Upper House, while pushing for a dramatic increase of revenues to the counties from 15 per cent to 45 per cent of the total audited and approved national revenue.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have expressed vehement opposition to both the OKoa Kenya and Pesa Mashinani plebiscites.

Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero is however leading a group of Cord governors opposed to the referendum and is among those targeted at the retreat.

The meeting will seek to deliberate on co-operation between the Cord governors and Parliamentary Group on the referendum quest so that all sides are coherent and on-message.

It will explore sustainable strategies of coordination and cooperation between the two sides in the wake of a frosty relationship arising from ‘unpopular’ legislation by the Senate.

– the-star.co.ke

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