JUBILEE leaders have said Cord must first drop its push for a referendum before the national dialogue it seeks can take place.

A few days after President Uhuru Kenyatta expressed his willingness for talks with the opposition, the majority leaders of both the National Assembly and the Senate, Aden Duale and Kithure Kindiki, said Cord must engage the government within the existing constitutional framework.

Kindiki said in an interview that the government is ready to have ‘a national conversation’ that will canvass solutions to the problems facing the country, but is not ready for a referendum.

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“If there would be issues that touch on going to a referendum, then they must wait until after the 2017 general election,” Kindiki said.

He insisted that a referendum in the middle of the electoral cycle would be divisive and cause distraction.

“We are from another general election two years ago. We only have four-and-a-half years to deliver on our manifesto. We cannot entertain a referendum,” he declared.

In a hard-hitting statement directed at the opposition chiefs, Kindiki accused Cord of perpetuating divisive politics and disrespecting the presidency, following the heckling of Defence cabinet Secretary Rachel Omamo in Bondo on Saturday during Fidel Odinga’s burial.

“Cord should explain whether dialogue is not the divisive, incitement rhetoric that they were perpetuating last year with their Saba Saba and referendum calls. If it is a national conversation, then it’s welcome. What we saw in Bondo is a complete contradiction to the conciliatory and dialogue tone that was set after Fidel’s death,” Kindiki said.

He said he would support legislation by Cord senators that can strengthen devolution.

“I will definitely be ready to support. If part of the ideas we discuss could be law, then Parliament is there.”

The Tharaka Nithi Senator wondered why there has been “no express condemnation of the barbaric behaviour from the Cord leaders” at Fidel’s funeral service in Kisumu and Bondo.

“The President donated three Air Force choppers to assist the Odinga family in solidarity with Raila, who deserves support for his previous role in government. We least expected humiliation since leaders should have taken control.”

Duale took a more hardline stance, saying Jubilee would not give in to opposition demands.

“You cannot abuse us on the one hand and on the other hand tell us that you want to have dialogue. That is hypocrisy of the highest level,” Duale said.

He was addressing the press at a teachers’ forum in Garissa.

“They can continue shouting at the top of their voices in funerals as they always do, but we won’t care. We will not give in to their demands,” he said.

President Kenyatta on Thursday last week said at a memorial service for Fidel at All Saints’ Cathedral that he is ready for dialogue if “leaders stop talking at each other”.

Duale said the Jubilee administration welcomes dialogue that revolves around multi-sectoral conversations to give ideas on how to better the country, “but will not entertain rallies that border on tribal incitement”.

“All along, our view has been that Kenya, like any other country, has national challenges that need to be addressed, and we encourage the country to talk to itself,” he said, stressing the need for the opposition to stop humiliating the President.

The two legislators, who lead Jubilee’s political troops in playing hardball with the opposition, asked Cord to embrace parliamentary and other institutional mechanisms to offer solutions to national challenges.

– the-star.co.ke

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