Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Raila Odinga Digs in For Fresh Tussle with Uhuru Kenyatta

The CORD coalition’s determination to amend the Constitution to give more power to counties and end the tyranny of numbers in presidential elections has set it up for a major tussle with the ruling Jubilee alliance.

CORD co-principal and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga heads to Kwale, Mombasa and Taveta for public rallies seen as a move to water down the effects of Deputy President William Ruto’s weekend tour of the area.

Raila is expected to drum up support for the amendments that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee government is opposed to. The region overwhelmingly voted for CORD in this year’s General Election.

The clamour by CORD for a review of the Constitution to replace the presidential system of government with a parliamentary one has lit the fuse in this latest contest.

Jubilee leaders have accused Raila of looking for ways to stir up another political contest after the March 4 ruling that confirmed Kenyatta as President.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale even claimed that CORD was instigating the crusade by governors for a constitutional referendum under the guise of devolution.

It emerged that CORD leaders plan a series of public rallies to sell the proposal to amend the Constitution in favour of a parliamentary system of government.

During Ruto’s tour of Kwale, Mombasa and Taveta, a section of leaders elected on the CORD ticket resolved to back the Government.

Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama said that after marketing the proposal they would collect the two million signatures needed to force a referendum. “We don’t want to go to Parliament,” Muthama added, apparently alive to the fact that the Jubilee Coalition commands majority in both Houses.

Constitutional overhaul


The Wiper Senator said the parliamentary system of Government is desirable to check the “tyranny of numbers” domination.

Muthama explained that CORD’s proposal is for an electoral college of 431 senators, governors and women representatives from 47 counties, and the 290 MPs to elect the President who will have to secure a 50 per cent plus one vote.

Some, however, argued that this would be tantamount to overhauling the Constitution because it would interfere with other sections of the supreme law. Jubilee leaders countered it was yet another scheme by Raila to seek power.

“He was at the forefront with (former President) Kibaki campaigning for the new Constitution. Kenyans overwhelmingly voted for the presidential system of Government,” Duale said. “Just because he lost in the elections he now wants to try his luck through the parliamentary system. He should wait for the next elections in 2017,” Duale added.

Suba MP John Mbadi, however, alleged that Raila was pushed to accept a presidential system of Government since the proposed constitution was better than the Independence one.

“The presidential system is not good and it is important that we amend the Constitution this early. After all, 90 per cent of the Commonwealth is governed by the parliamentary systems” Mbadi said.

But TNA nominated MP Johnstone Sakaja said Raila was looking for an opportunity for another contest with the Jubilee coalition.

“It is very clear that Raila has not accepted that he lost the last General Election and he is now looking for a way to fight another political battle with President Uhuru Kenyatta. He should know that Kenyans are not fools and they will still hand him a defeat in a referendum,” Sakaja said.

Duale claimed CORD was instigating the governors’ push for a constitutional referendum under the guise of devolution.

“We have told our (Jubilee) colleagues including Isaac Ruto that CORD is playing politics and they should also come clean on their agenda,” he added.

CORD’s Deputy Whip in the Senate Janet Ong’era supported the calls by Raila saying it is in the spirit of constitutional reforms.

Ong’era said the parliamentary system is the only realistic way of ending the divisive politics that play out in every election, and ensure minorities also have a chance at leadership.

“The parliamentary system is what was initially in the draft Constitution, but that was changed by greedy people whose interest is only to use their ethnic backing to claim power. It is time that we addressed that,” said Ong’era.

Personal convenience

“The threat of tyranny of numbers is evident for Kenyans to see. That is why we want the electorate to face the ballot and decide on whether this is how they want to be led, or through a parliamentary system that would give equal chance to all Kenyans to lead,” said Ong’era.

But Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen questioned the timing of Raila’s calls, saying that the former PM was only seeking amendments to satisfy short-term goals for personal convenience.

Sakaja added: “It would be difficult for Raila to convince voters that the Presidential system is bad yet he campaigned for adoption of the new constitution.”

ODM Executive Director Magerer Langat said there was nothing wrong with pushing for an amendment of the Constitution. “Cord has a right to pinpoint areas in the Constitution that need to be repealed, and it should not be taken that it is an agenda propelled by Raila, but a collective position of the coalition,” Magerer said.

The Standard

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