Opposition leader Raila Odinga on Monday warned of a long drama-loaded fight to kick out top managers at the electoral commission as President Uhuru Kenyatta claimed the Nasa leader was on the verge of withdrawing from the repeat election set for October 26.
Mr Odinga, who will be flying to the United Kingdom on Wednesday to give a lecture and return immediately, also declared that the courts will not force him to participate in an election against his free will, following a petition to have him forced to rescind his boycott threat.
The former Prime Minister insisted that he would only go for a rematch with President Kenyatta if the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission provides a level playing field.
He assured his supporters that the march to power was still on, but cautioned that it will not be easy as there will be a lot of drama, including defection of Nasa candidates who lost in the August elections.
“Before this change can come, there will be a lot of drama. Many will fall by the wayside. Many will fall for the good things in Pharaoh’s court and forget that we are leaving Egypt for Canaan,” he said.
Mr Odinga said the history of reform, change and progress in Kenya is that of the struggle of ordinary, grassroots leaders seeking to make Kenya a better place for all.
“Change in Kenya has never come from Parliament, from the Office of President (OP), from State House, or from people who want things to remain as they are because they want to keep what they already own,” he said.
He was referring to high profile defections of Nasa candidates who lost in the recent elections, among them former Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar, former governors John Mruttu (Taita-Taveta), Moses Akaranga (Vihiga), and former Funyula MP Paul Otuoma.
“No Kenyan should lose sleep because individuals have gone to State House and announced their defection.
"We are aware that the Jubilee Party has set up a defectors’ fund to finance the buying of leaders and losers and create the impression that there is an exodus from Nasa,” he said.
But, speaking in Mombasa, President Kenyatta claimed that Mr Odinga was planning to pull out of the repeat election and challenged him to quit the race if he is not interested.
He cited Nasa’s demands for changes in the electoral commission and a new printer of ballot papers, as well as claims that telecommunications company Safaricom abetted irregularities in the last polls and attacks on Parliament as part of the proof that Mr Odinga does not want a rematch with him.
“He is free to withdraw from the race if he is not interested.
"Kenyans must be allowed to move on. The Supreme Court declared that we must repeat the polls and we are ready for it, but our competitor has issues with everything,” Mr Kenyatta said.
He said he did not know the reasons Mr Odinga will give when he announces leaving the race “because he is full of excuses”.
During a talk show at a local TV station on Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen claimed that Mr Odinga is set to officially withdraw from the presidential race on Wednesday.
But Mr Odinga’s running mate Kalonzo Musyoka scoffed at the claim.
“They have started speaking for us. If any decision is to be made on our next move, it will be done openly and in a manner in which it can be defended. Kenya is a democratic country.”
The two leaders told their supporters to remain steadfast in the coalition, maintaining that in a free and fair contest, the Jubilee Party would lose.
Mr Odinga was categorical, however, that he will not be compelled by any court to take part in a flawed electoral process.
“Kenya is a democratic country and there is no court that can force me to participate in an election I know will be rigged.
"This is a democracy. There is freedom of choice and if I freely choose to stay away, there is no way anybody, including the courts, can force me to participate,” Mr Odinga said.
He was reacting to the move by Pokot South MP David Pkosing to seek the intervention of the court to compel him to take part in the October 26 repeat presidential election.
The MP argues that Mr Odinga must comply with the Supreme Court decision that ordered a fresh presidential election, and that his threats to boycott the election if certain conditions are not met will be unlawful.
The MP argues that if the former PM and Mr Musyoka make good their threat to boycott the election, there will be a constitutional crisis that could plunge the country into uncertainty.
On Monday, the High Court gave Nasa four days to respond to the suit as it emerged that Mr Odinga and his Nasa co-principals were yet to file their responses to the case.