Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) on Tuesday accused the electoral commission of sabotaging Okoa Kenya referendum campaigns after commissioners skipped a crucial meeting with opposition leaders.
Led by Mr Raila Odinga, the leaders said that they had written to the commission chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan informing him about their intentions to meet him but when they visited his Anniversary Towers offices there was no commissioner to address them.
The Cord leaders declined to be attended to by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba who was in office.
Mr Odinga later told journalists they were seeking the attention of the commission’s policy makers in the Okoa Referendum case.
“When we visited the commission last month they promised to conclude the verification exercise that was going on at the time in 10 days which would have been on March 2, 2016,” Mr Odinga said.
He complained that the commission was taking the whole issue for granted and accused it of being partisan in its operations ahead of 2017 General Elections.
“We have been told that Mr Hassan is in a meeting in Karen. But I am still wondering how big that meeting is and why he abdicated his duty to deal with his core responsibility that includes talking to political players on fundamental issues such as this,” Mr Odinga said.
He also said that the commission claimed the other commissioners were on ground supervising the mass voter registration and could not have been available for the meeting.
Mr Odinga and his team declined a proposal to meet Mr Chiloba saying they wanted to meet the chairman.
Addressing journalists at the Anniversary Towers after the meeting aborted Wiper Democratic Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka said the Okoa Kenya leaders would hold consultations on their next move.
“It will be difficult to go to the polls with a partisan commission that is widely leaning towards the government side,” he warned.
He said that the commission’s conduct in the Kericho by-elections and its inaction on massive abuse of State resources including deployment of the military in Malindi was contemptuous.
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula who was also present warned that the commission could not be trusted to handle the 2017 General Elections over fears it was in bed with the government side.
“What the commission has done today is not fair to us. As people who were elected but rigged-out, we also have the right to be heard,” Mr Wetang’ula stated.
Mr Odinga and the other Cord leaders met the IEBC Commissioners on February 16, 2016 where the commission promised to conclude the verification of Okoa Kenya referendum petition signatories within 10 days.
The IEBC, however, said in a statement that it had informed the Cord leaders of the unavailability of its commissioners being the last day of the Mass Voter Registration (MVR) exercise as most officials were out in the field.
"For the record, the IEBC Chairperson personally followed the letter with a phone call to Mr Paul Mwangi, the Chairperson of the Okoa Kenya Secretariat, to reiterate the unavailability of Commissioners," said Tabitha Mutemi, IEBC's Manager, Communication and Corporate Affairs.
She said once the exercise is over and the signatures meet the 1 million threshold, the Commission will submit the bill to County Assemblies for consideration.