Friday, August 16, 2013

CORD meets secretly over referendum

CORD meets secretly over referendum

Updated Friday, August 16th 2013 at 00:24 GMT +3
CORD leaders address a press conference during the National Democratic Institute for Internal Affairs workshop at a Mombasa hotel, Thursday. [Photo: Omondi Onyango/Standard]
By Willis Oketch
Mombasa, Kenya: CORD leaders led by Raila Odinga held secret talks in Mombasa where they reviewed strategies to press for a referendum to end what they call the tyranny of numbers.

The coalition wants the President elected by Parliament saying it would end the marginalisation of small tribes in the country’s political leadership.
But speaking at a separate function at the Coast, Deputy President William Ruto accused CORD leaders of pursuing a selfish agenda by calling for a referendum.
He claimed that CORD’s “new push to overhaul the constitution” is motivated by alleged refusal to accept the outcome of the March 4 presidential elections.
Also at the CORD meeting at the Serena Hotel in Mombasa Thursday were the coalition’s co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula, at which an expert report reviewing the coalition’s performance in the last polls and measures to strengthen the team featured.
CORD leaders vowed to press on with the two-pronged push to amend the Constitution to increase the allocation to counties and replace the presidential system of Government with a parliamentary one.
Deputy President Ruto accused the opposition CORD of attempting to recreate the political heat and euphoria of the 2005 referendum in which Raila led a wave of opposition that defeated former President Kibaki in the referendum vote.
Misunderstood cord
“If they had won the election would they be pushing for the referendum?” Ruto posed, referring to Raila’s CORD.
Reports indicate that CORD plans a series of meetings across the Coast region to rally support for the coalition and turn the tide against the ruling Jubilee Coalition whose top leaders have made forays recently.
It culminated in a Cabinet decision to sanction issuance of 60,000 title deeds in the region plagued by land problem.

CORD clarified that their call for a referendum was not meant to deny Kenyans their right to elect their leaders. Senator James Orengo, who spoke on behalf of the leaders, said CORD’s referendum push is intended to empower the National Assembly and Senate to check the powers of the Executive branch of the Government.
“There is a need for the Executive to be accountable to the Senate and National Assembly so that the people at the grassroots enjoy the resources in every county” said Orengo.

Orengo said some people had misunderstood what CORD wants amended in the Constitution, adding that their crusade is designed to promote accountability.
“What we are talking about is how can the Constitution be amended so that the Executive is held accountable, unlike now when it is not?” asked Orengo.
Also at the meeting were senators Johnstone Muthama and Otieno Kajwang and MPs Millie Odhiambo-Mabona, Khatib Mwashatani and other leaders.
CORD went on the defensive on the day governors and senators warned they would not allow former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to hijack their push for a referendum on devolution matters.
A day after Raila gave the Government one month to agree to a meeting to discuss a roadmap to a referendum, the legislators said they were not party to the crusade to overhaul the Constitution to install a parliamentary system of Government.
The Senate’s Legal Affairs Committee Chairman Amos Wako, a CORD member, also broke ranks with his colleagues’ push for a review of the system of Government.
Wako, the Busia Senator and former Attorney General, said Raila’s push for an amendment to move the country from a presidential system of governance to a parliamentary one, would not be incorporated in their campaign tied to devolution.
“Our proposals have nothing to do with the presidential or parliamentary system of Government. The respective initiatives are distinct and separate,” said Wako at a press conference in Nairobi Thursday.
“We have a justification as to why we want that referendum conducted now because we want to protect devolution, you should ask the other group (Raila’s team) why they want their referendum now,” Wako added.
Chairman of the Council of Governors Isaac Ruto accompanied him.

Thursday, Orengo said it was not about the system of government but the role of executive in the distribution of resources.
CORD also renewed its onslaught on the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) saying it must be reformed before the 2017 General Election.

Raila arrived in Mombasa on Wednesday with Wetangula, after touring Taveta County, and was joined by Kalonzo and Muthama Thursday.
They met several local leaders, including Mombasa Governor Hassan Ali Joho and most MPs from CORD in the region.
Raila and Kalonzo will address the Law Society of Kenya LSK’s annual conference at the Leisure Lodge Hotel in Diani on the Kenyan South Coast.
The leaders said the present allocation was not enough.
Orengo claimed the IEBC, cannot be trusted to conduct the next polls.

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