Envoys threaten travel bans to politicians derailing poll plans

Monday October 2 2017

US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec reads joint statement on behalf of mission in Kenyan on Kenya's General Election.

US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec reads joint statement on behalf of mission in Kenyan on Kenya's General Election. Envoys have threatened politicians derailing October 26 presidential polls with travel bans. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE  

By SILAS APOLLO
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By BERNARD NAMUNANE
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Envoys have threatened travel bans against politicians who sow anarchy or impede preparations for the October 26 repeat elections.

Sources within both Jubilee Party and Nasa did not divulge the details of the caution or the particular countries issuing it, but said the warning was the culmination of concerted efforts by the West to get the two sides talking and arrive at a middle ground on, among other things, how the repeat elections will be managed.

According to the sources, the envoys, among them US’s Robert Godec and British Deputy High Commissioner Susie Kitchens, have been categorical that failure to hold the repeat polls as planned could plunge the country into a constitutional crisis.

Further, the diplomats are  pushing the two parties to drop some of their demands and compromise, arguing that most of the requests cannot be met due to time constraints.

SACKING OFFICIALS

Nasa is demanding the sacking of IEBC officials implicated in the bungling of the August elections, as well the cancellation of tenders awarded to printer Al-Ghurair and technology company Safran Morpho.

Jubilee has, on the other hand, proposed a raft of amendments to the electoral laws in a contentious bill that seeks to reduce the powers of IEBC chairman as well as entrench the use of the manual vote transmission system, among other recommendations.

Nasa has called for demonstrations against the poll agency today in Nairobi and at county levels to push through the changes they want undertaken at the IEBC before the polls.

The protests, which the coalition says will be peaceful, will also target the Election Laws (Amendment Bill 2017), which Jubilee has sponsored.

State House, however, dismissed the demonstrations as a waste of time, since Parliament was already working on mechanisms to fix the electoral reforms as ordered by the Supreme Court ruling.

THROW STONES

“They can sing, they can march, they can walk, but they cannot throw stones, they cannot beat up people, they cannot lynch anyone,” said spokesman Manoah Esipisu.

 He continued; “There is a group of people in this country who think that whenever there is a national issue that needs to be sorted, it must be removed from Parliament.”

Senate Leader of Majority Kipchumba Murkomen, and who was a member of Jubilee party’s delegation team that held talks with the IEBC and Nasa, yesterday said that part of the concerns raised by the envoys was the deadlocks facing the impending elections. 

“They (envoys) were concerned that as a people with huge interests in the country, they are interested in a peaceful elections and that no politician should use violence,” said Mr Murkomen. “As Jubilee, we assured them that we are ready for more talks on the way forward.” 

DIPLOMATS

A source at Mr Odinga’s Nasa said the diplomats reached out to the coalition’s principals and asked for a scale down on demands made to the IEBC and calls for mass protests to force changes within the commission.

“The envoys argued that while it was prudent to make changes within the IEBC, removing the officials at this time could be risky as there would be less or no time to recruit new officers,” the source said.

Both Jubilee and Nasa parties, however, insisted on moving forward with their plans to effect changes ahead of the polls with Mr Murkomen arguing that the ruling party was in no mood to negotiate.

“Mr Odinga was adamant that the IEBC officials must go because they were the ones responsible for bungling the elections. He however asked the envoys to meet with Jubilee and call for a joint meeting,” the Nasa source added.

The European Union, had in its detailed report on the conduct of the August polls, made a raft of recommendations to promote accountability and transparency of the repeat polls and called for the investigation and possible prosecution of IEBC officials implicated in electoral malpractices.

OBSERVER MISSION

The Observer Mission in its interim statement called for “thorough investigations of alleged electoral offences in order to promote prosecutions where warranted, including of IEBC staff.”

Mr Odinga’s private secretary Dennis Onyango on Friday told Nation that Mr Odinga’s meeting with the diplomats focused on a wide range of issues, chief among them, the impending elections.

“They discussed a range of issues around the political situation in the country including the electoral laws amendment bill and the developments at the independent electoral and boundaries commission,” Mr Onyango.

Mr Murkomen on Sunday said they have invited the clergy and the law Society of Kenya to submit their opinions on the proposed amendments to the election laws.