Nasa finds refuge under 2013 court verdict

Tuesday October 10 2017

Raila Odinga

Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga arrives at Okoa Kenya offices, Nairobi, on October 10, 2017 to address the nation. He announced his withdrawal from the race. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By BERNARD NAMUNANE
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When Jubilee MPs concretised their plans to introduce changes to the Elections Act in their bid to seal loopholes used by the Supreme Court to annul President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory in the August 8 elections, Nasa flagbearer Raila Odinga blinked.

Insiders in the opposition coalition on Tuesday said Mr Odinga opened his eyes wider when the Jubilee Party, using its tyranny of numbers, introduced the Elections Laws (Amendment) Bill in Parliament in the last days of September.

When Jubilee MPs and senators went ahead to constitute a committee to hear views from the public on the merits and demerits of the amendments without the participation of their National Super Alliance colleagues, there was talk within the opposition alliance over the possibility of the former Prime Minister withdrawing from the race.

INTENTION
Matters were complicated either by the slow pace or reluctance by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in making the changes the opposition was demanding before the repeat presidential election set for October 26.

Interviews with a number of MPs and top leaders in the opposition coalition revealed a picture of a team that was alarmed by the trap the Jubilee leadership had set in the amendments against their flagbearer.

To them, the changes were meant to push Mr Odinga out of the race and, at the same time, provide a window for President Kenyatta to be declared duly elected after the possible withdrawal of his main rival.

ELECTION LAWS

And to withdraw from the race, the candidate has to inform the IEBC in writing; which he did.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said the commission received a letter of withdrawal from Mr Odinga, and that they will review the matter.

In the amendments, the Jubilee legal team included a provision that will have President Kenyatta announced the winner should he remain alone in the repeat presidential race.

In fact, they branded the proposed law as the “Raila Exclusion Bill”.

SOLUTION
On September 6, Mr Chebukati gazetted the date for the repeat election as October 17, with President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga as the only candidates.

This meant that should Mr Odinga, who had insisted that Nasa was not to participate in the election without the reforms it was pushing for, pull out, President Kenyatta would have had his way.

It was then that Mr Odinga and his co-principals instructed their legal teams to find a way out of the trap without handing the advantage to his political rivals.

Sources said Nasa sought a way out and finally found refuge in the 2013 Supreme Court ruling that expanded Section 138(8) of the Constitution to include a provision that a presidential election stands cancelled and a new one should be held if a candidate withdraws from the race.