Kenya:Cord leader Raila Odinga calls for mass action over election

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Cord leader Raila Odinga is flanked by coprincipals Moses Wetang’ula, Kalonzo Musyoka and other party members as he addresses the press on Capitol Hill yesterday. /HEZRON NJOROGE
Opposition protesters plan to pour into the streets in mass action starting January 4 to protest what they call Jubilee’s “legal coup”.
Yesterday Jubilee lawmakers passed amendments that Cord says weaken electoral laws and enable rigging and election theft.
Cord leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka yesterday said the demonstrations would be peaceful but more intense than their weeks of anti-IEBC protests in May. At least six people were killed.
Cord had stormed out of Parliament yesterday as Jubilee with its ‘tyranny of numbers’ passed the contentious amended electoral laws. Notably, they allow a manual backup if electronic voter registration, identification and transmission systems fail on August 8, 2017. Cord says this is a recipe for rigging
Raila and Kalonzo said they had not choice but to return to the streets.

“This is a legal coup. The Jubilee coalition has decided to deny Kenyans free and fair elections, just as it happened in Burundi,” Raila said at his Capitol Hill office.

He said laws that Jubilee changed had resulted from Cord and Jubilee negotiations, with broad input and contributions from diplomats. They firmly agreed not to change a comma.

Expert comment: Unwarranted brinkmanship should stop before 2017-Ezra Chiloba

“Jubilee is breaking the law that was developed by experts,” Raila said.

Many countries — Nigeria, Ghana, Namibia, Senegal and India, with 863 million voters — have used technology and Kenya cannot shy away from it, he said.

“We cannot go to elections to participate in a fraud,” Raila said, accusing Deputy President William Ruto of being behind the “scheme”.

The opposition announced the protests hours after Jubilee locked journalists out of Parliament chambers, pulled the plug on the live video feed and deployed massive security around Parliament Buildings.
As happened on Tuesday night, some MPs exchanged blows and insults. Jubilee MPs dragged opposition lawmakers away. Some ended up with bloodied faces.
Cord MPs Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay), Irshad Sumra (Embakasi South) and James Nyikal (Seme) were among those saying they had been assaulted by Jubilee lawmakers. They appeared at the Cord press conference.
Tigania East MP Mpuru Aburi left the chamber with a bloody facial wound. He claimed he was assaulted by deputy minority leader Jakoyo Midiwo.
Both Sumra and Wanga said they had been assaulted by Aburi.
“So today I arrive in Parliament and Jubilee have instructions to break my neck. As I find my place, Mpuru Aburi calls me names, spits on my face and begins to rain blows on my chest and all over. Jubilee is desperate but we want them to know that we will not be cowed or intimidated,” Wanga said.
After Cord MPs left, the amendments, also recommended by the IEBC, were passed without debate in 10 minutes.
“No one should blame us,” Wiper chief Musyoka said.
Opposition MPs led by Midiwo and Senate minority leader Moses Wetang’ula told journalists at Parliament buildings that some Jubilee MPs unlawfully took weapons into the chamber.
“I don’t think Jubilee came to debate. We decided to walk out because I was informed by a friend from the Jubilee side that guns were being aimed at us. For us, we don’t have guns, we have brains,” Midiwo said.
Jubilant Jubilee MPs celebrated their victory and dismissed allegations they were armed.
“These are just claims, just as I can say Cord MPs were carrying grenades in chambers. Can you believe this?” nominated MP Johnson Sakaja asked.
“No one should blame us,” Wiper leader Musyoka said.
Midiwo, also Gem MP, claimed Speaker Justin Muturi was biased and abused his powers by making rulings stopping members from debating, just to pass the amendments.
He questioned the legality of the reconvened Special session on grounds Muturi on Tuesday evening had already adjourned the House until January 24.
“The Speaker has abused his powers by calling for this special session. Parliament is guided by Standing Orders. He is allowed to call a special sitting only on specific issues and specified instances that are very grave and urgent,” he said.
He said these are state of emergency, declaration of war, appointments of commissioners to a government body and impeachment of a President and DP.
Midiwo said Cord will benefit greatly at the polls from Jubilee’s undemocratic actions.
“What is happening today is illegal, abuse of power and we will not accept as Cord. This is giving us the electorate and we are happy,” he said.
GSU officers were stationed at the intersections of Uhuru Highway and Parliament Road, and that of City Hall Way, Parliament Road and Harambee Avenue.
The battle now moves from the National Assembly to the Senate, which will consider the same amendments, probably next week.
“Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery must buy more tear gas, more poisoned water and let’s meet on the street. You can kill some people, you cannot kill all Kenyans,” Wetang’ula, the Senate minority leader, said.
The Jubilee Parliamentary leadership was summoned to State House immediately amendments were passed to discuss how to deal with Cord in the Senate.

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