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Citizen Weekly

Sunday 19 April 2015


Cord leader Raila Odinga and his co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula have formed a technical team that is finetuning a petition that will be presented to US President Barack Obama when he visits the country.
According to sources well versed with the plans at the Cord secretariat, already, the coalition has come up with a number of drafts that will form the basis of the discussion if Obama meets the opposition.
Already, there are fears that some top government officials are plotting to block Obama from meeting the opposition and members of the civil society.
 Recently, Raila hosted a delegation from the US Senate and Congress at his Karen residence in what his supporters interpreted as a rehearsal to meeting the big man.
According to Raila, the meeting was preliminary talks ahead of Obama’s visit in July when he is set to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. There are however those who point out the fact that the Congress and Senate in US are firmly controlled by Republicans who have no time for the Democrat Obama and so what transpired in the Karen meeting can have no official bearing with Obama’s visit. It is still fresh in memory that the US Congress last month invited Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to address it against Obama’s wish.
Topping the agenda on the petition is the forthcoming 2017 elections in which Cord had listed a number of demands that Uhuru Kenyatta must implement before the elections.
Cord now wants Obama and America to put pressure on Uhuru to disband IEBC and a new commission constituted on the basis of a new modality agreed upon by all stakeholders. Cord proposes that IEBC commissioners be appointed by political parties based on their parliamentary strengths. Raila now wants to push Obama to take up the matter with his host Uhuru and to have a new IEBC to oversee 2017 elections before he leaves office next year when the Americans go to polls.
Cord is also demanding a control and monitoring mechanism to prevent Jubilee from using public funds to finance the Jubilee campaigns.
Another demand by Raila under electoral reforms is the resignation of the IEBC chairman Issak Hassan and other top officials named in the ‘chicken-gate’ scandal. Cord claims that majority of Kenyans have lost confidence in the commission and it  cannot be trusted to conduct free and fair election.
Raila is now proposing that new legislation be passed to separate the presidential election from county polls and to allow Kenyans to vote using expired passports and photocopies of national identity cards.
Cord now wants that the president, national assembly members and county woman representatives elected together and governors, senators and county assembly members chosen 60 days later.
Those who are attempting to block Raila and opposition leaders from meeting Obama claimed that with the clock quickly ticking towards 2017 elections, Obama could be used to indirectly attempt to help the opposition dislodge Uhuru from power.
The top Jubilee operatives claim that if what was published Jerome R Corsi in the book The Obama Nation is anything to go by, then Raila and Obama must not be allowed to discuss Kenya politics during the July tour.
In the book, it is alleged that during Obama’s tour in 2006 which came about a year before elections were held, Obama openly supported Raila. However, Raila allies have always maintained that Obama has remained neutral in Kenyan politics, and did not support Raila during his trip. It has also been said that Obama contributed to Raila’s campaign kitty. Obama was once quoted reacting to the rumuors “One of the things we try to do is meet with all parties. I met President Kibaki, I met Uhuru Kenyatta, I was with Raila Odinga. We met the government, met the opposition and met other groups such as human rights activists. What I try to do is give a consistent message on what I think US-Kenya relations should be, but not to suggest somehow that I think one party is better than the other. That’s for the Kenyan people to decide.”
Another contentious issue Raila wants to draw to the attention of Obama is the manner in which Uhuru’s administration has continued to intimidate the civil society.
Jubilee at one time attempted to reintroduce controversial amendments to the Public Benefits Organisation Act to impose a 15pc cap on the amount of resources nongovernmental organisations can mobilise externally.
It is also important to note that Cord wants to plead with Obama to have the US increase its funding to NGOs. Recently, the US suggested increase in funding to local NGOs running into billions of shillings. It is said Maina Kiai who went to university with Obama and used to smoke together lobbied on their behalf. Kiai frequently shuttles between America and Kenya.
Cord petition demands that Jubilee stops attempting to control the political activities of NGOs which was introduced by the Kibaki administration and which has now gathered steam under Uhuru.
That government is out to control the NGO sector is no secret. A move to deregister 510 NGOs raised outcry in the sector. Some 15 of them were alleged involved in terrorism. Other 12 with annual income of more than Sh500m had been accused of not submitting audited accounts.
In the petition, Cord wants Obama to take up the matter of freedom of press which they believe Uhuru’s government has been fighting.
What is worrying is that the Jubilee administration has been gagging the media through various legislations. A perfect example is provisions in the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill 2014 which authorised Kenyan security forces to intercept communications and imprison journalists for covering terrorism investigations and operations.
In December 2013, Uhuru signed into law the controversial Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Bill two weeks after parliament adopted contentious proposals recommended by him. The law also retained Sh20m fine against media houses and Sh500,000 for individual journalists. Also in the petition is the burning digital migration matter.
Raila is also planning to prevail Obama to discuss and suggest to Uhuru possible withdrawal of Kenyan KDF troops from neighbouring Somalia.
According to Raila, the continued stay of KDF soldiers in Somalia is hurting Kenyans through terror attacks as was recently witnessed during the Garissa university attack. They further claim the soldiers are engaged in illegal charcoal trade. Although Uhuru has insisted that he has no intention of withdrawing the troops from the wartorn country until they accomplish their mission, the opposition believes their stay in Somalia has backfired on Kenyans.
Raila now wants Obama to urge Uhuru to emulate the US who withdrew their soldiers in Somalia. According to Raila, the Kenya military intervention has backfired and the continued presence in Somalia has instead worsened the situation. Sources now say Kenyans continue to lose more soldiers day and night in Somalia as al-Shaabab continues to kill hundreds of Kenyans in what they claim is retaliatory attacks and protests against the continued presence of KDF in Somalia.
On the fight against corruption, Raila plans to lay bare case studies of corruption and how Uhuru government has failed to act tough on corruption.
Last year, a report by Transparency International ranked Kenya as the third most corrupt country in East Africa coming after Tanzania and Burundi in second and first positions respectively.
Raila and the opposition have trashed Uhuru’s list of shame saying it was a pure public relation exercise. Raila claims that corruption is quickly spreading in Kenya than an epidemic. They claim Uhuru has failed to curb corruption which has skyrocketed since Uhuru took over from Kibaki.
But even as Jubilee claims to have cracked the first whip by asking those named in various scandals to step aside, we have since discovered that Uhuru’s anti-corruption crusade is now threatening to split Jubilee right in the middle.
Cord claims that Uhuru has been targeting the small fish in his fight against corruption while protecting the real perpetrators of corruption. According to Raila, Uhuru should first take action against his Deputy Ruto whom he alleges has been named in various land grabbing cases.
On tribalism, sources say Cord will present Obama with a list of what they term as tribal appointments which did not reflect the face of Kenya and which has benefited only two tribes. More than half of the nominees are from the communities of the president and his deputy while the rest of the remaining 40 communities of Kenya are left to share less than 50pc of the opportunities.
Another sector that Raila plans to share with Obama is the insecurity in Kenya. One of the fundamentals obligations of a state is provide security. Here Jubilee has failed due to corruption and tribalism among the institutions mandated to offer the services.
Under Articles 238 and 239 of the Constitution, the National Police Service, the Kenya Defence Forces and the National Intelligence Service have the responsibility to protect Kenya and Kenyans. 
The Cord team also plans to prevail upon Obama to increase funding of youth and women activities in the country.
On devolution, Cord feels Uhuru is tactically sabotaging devolution by denying the counties money from the consolidated fund. It is for this reason that Raila and the Council of Governors has been pushing for a national referendum to increase the revenue allocation to counties from the central government.
Sources say the level of success in devolution will be the yardstick for his re-election and that any tricks to undermine devotion will be costly because it may just be the single reason to send him and his deputy home.
Sources say at a given time during a meeting to draft the petition Raila allies had even proposed to have Obama check on Chinese influence on Kenya’s economy but the matter was shelved after Raila realised that Kenya has benefited a lot from the Chinese government.
They were also reminded that Cord faces were recently in China with a number of Cord governors Wycliffe Oparanya, John Nyangarama, Cornel Rasanga and  Omar Abdi who is the deputy governor Marsabit county.
Cord also wants Jubilee to stop moves to influence independent institutions such as the judiciary.

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