Tuesday, May 28, 2024

America pushes Uhuru, Raila into IEBC reform deal

America pushes Uhuru, Raila into IEBC reform deal
America pushes Uhuru, Raila into IEBC reform deal

The United States played a key in defusing tension and getting Jubilee and Cord to the bargaining table, ending weeks of crisis.

In addition to persuasion, there was arm-twisting and warnings of imminent sanctions against Jubilee and Cord leaders by the international community. These are thought to include travel restrictions, which the US has been known to impose on ‘undesirable’ foreign visitors.

The Americans were instrumental in getting the two coalitions to agree on how to deal with electoral reforms. Negotiators are finalising the structure and process of dialogue by two, eight-member teams appointed by Jubilee and Cord.

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A joint announcement is expected tomorrow by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cord leader Raila Odinga — a demonstration of political goodwill — before negotiations move to Parliament.

The agreement includes setting up the process, conditions, issues and framework for dialogue once the Parliamentary Select Committee takes over.

US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec has been the chief mediator for the team of Western diplomats, politicians, business figures and religious leaders have been seeking to end the impasse. The UK and EU have been active.

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Sources tell the Star the opposition placed more trust in foreign diplomats than religious leaders whom they regard with suspicion because in past elections they backed the government.

Thus, Godec took charge.

The international community has stressed the importance of national and regional stability for the sake of political, security and business interests of all concerned.

The crisis over electoral reform has seen five weeks of deadly, destructive anti-IEBC protests and prompted fears of widespread violence and instability around the polls.

Cord wants all nine electoral commissioners to leave, saying they are biased and cannot conduct three and fair elections.

The threat of sanctions was effective, forcing both sides to agree to sit down with envoys, religious and business leaders.

Kenya Private Sector Alliance members and religious leaders in the negotiations confirm the international community demanded smooth elections.

Godec warned that the polls must be orderly and trouble-free.

“He also warned them the elections must be free and fair. The two teams were also asked to present their [negotiating] proposals, which they did,” sources within the group told the Star.

All of this led to the “white smoke” Cord referred to on Sunday, when calling off anti-IEBC protests in favour of dialogue.

“The motion to establish a joint select committee of Parliament can be tabled this week. It is no longer about substance but form and a very secondary component thereof,” Siaya Senator James Orengo said.

Diplomats, clerics and business people implored Cord to suspend protests to to allow for a negotiation team assisted by mediators

Jubilee had ruled out negotiations unless the opposition called off demonstrations.


President William Ruto also said the government was confident an accord would be reached this week, leading to an amicable resolution.

“I am optimistic the few sticky issues on the IEBC will be sorted out in the next few days to give way for dialogue so if there is any problem with the electoral body, we solve it for once,” Ruto said on Sunday.

Jubilee agreed to some oppositions demands, including a deal by negotiators to be endorsed by Uhuru and Raila, before being sent to Parliament. for a vote

The Jubilee side had insisted both the Majority and Minority leaders sign negotiators’ recommendations. However, the opposition was reluctant, demanding the two principals sign for the sake of goodwill.

Cord has pushed not only for removal of electoral commissions but also major reforms of the electoral process.

Multiple sources at State House and Capitol Hill confirm the team agreed also not to engage on constitutional issues — Cord’s sweeping electoral and other reforms that would require a referendum

Political and ethnic tensions have escalated following the street protests as well as incitement and hate speech.

Religious leaders are led by Canon Peter Karanja and Cornelius Korir. The business community team is headed by Jeremy Awori.

“The two teams met in the presence of mediators to discuss issues raised and in some cases the negotiators [mediators] are forced to force them to compromise on specific matters,” Karanja said.

Yesterday, Karanja said both Jubilee and Cord agreed on a formula to set up the select committee

“All fundamental issues have been dealt with. Only a few logistical issues remain but we are not allowed to reveal the content of the discussions until we finalise the process, the recommendations are signed and the two principals sign,” Karanja said.

He added: “Content development and handling will be a preserve of the negotiation members. We as mediators will be aiding the talks as midwives.”

Yesterday, TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja said the government and opposition agreed to cooperate on a bill to manage the electoral process.

“By the end of tomorrow we will move a motion in both Houses to fast-track the process,” Sakaja said.


America pushes Uhuru, Raila into IEBC reform deal

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