Raila, Ruto gang up against polls law amendments

Deputy President William Ruto and his political nemesis Raila Odinga have both rejected plans to radically change the election law, including imposing a ban on live transmission of results.

Raila’s team termed the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2022 retrogressive and vowed to shoot it down as Ruto came out guns blazing,  saying the proposed law is an attempt to forcefully install a Raila presidency.

The Bill makes radical proposals to, among others, pave way for both manual and electronic transmission of presidential results.

The proposed law says any failure to transmit the results electronically would not be grounds for the Supreme Court to nullify the presidential vote.

National Assembly Minority leader Junet Mohamed told the Star the country cannot revert back to the old days of manual transmission of results.

“We are going to oppose the Bill as ODM. The country has moved from manual to electronic voting. How do we revert to manual? The only thing we can do is to improve on the electronic transmission,” the Suna East MP said.

He said the official position of the party is to reject the proposed law and that the members would be guided on the same.

“The party is against the clause suggesting manual provision in both voting and transmission,” the Minority Leader said. 

The concern in Raila’s camp is that the country has heavily invested in reforming the electoral process to provide an electronic platform for managing results.

“We have invested heavily in buying voter registration and results transmission gadgets. Billions of shillings have been invested in transforming the electoral process from manual to electronic.We cannot allow such kind of investments to go to waste. It is going to be immoral if we are going to waste such kind of money,” the MP added.

However, Ruto said the proposed amendments were part of the bigger scheme to rig the August 9 General Election, adding that “they portend bigger trouble for Kenyans.”

The Deputy President said the Bill had “ingredients of a coup” and is meant “to overturn the will of the sovereign people of Kenya.”

“The never-ending onslaught through election law amendments is a choreographed attempt to install a puppet on the Kenyan electorate and sabotage our freedom of choice and hard-earned democracy. The plan is evil and must fail,” he said.

He took the fight to Raila’s doorstep, saying the proposed changes were part of a plot to install the ODM leader as President Uhuru Kenyatta’s successor.

“The desperate efforts to install project kitendawili by forceful, illegal, undemocratic and unconstitutional means portends a troubling future for Kenya, its democracy, the rule of law, freedom of its citizens and, ultimately, everyone’s well-being,” Ruto said.

He termed the proposed law as reckless, pointing out that “dark forces operating in shadows” were behind the same.

Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang, vice-chairman of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, insisted the Bill came from IEBC.

He said they advised the IEBC accordingly when the bill was reviewed before the committee and said banning live transmission is illegal.

“We told them (IEBC) what they can do and what they cannot do. I don’t remember any section they were talking about the media. The right to information is a constitutional right. That they would want to gag the media is laughable,” the MP said.

He said added, “You should know that these are proposals from them (IEBC). We will scrutinise and see the veracity of those proposals and if it has such provisions, I don’t even need to read it because it is unconstitutional,” he said.

According to Ruto’s allies, the Bill is a recipe for chaos. 

ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi, Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula, Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki, Garissa Township MP Aden Duale, his Kimilili counterpart Didmus Barasa, nominated MP David Sankok, and Mumias East MP Ben Washiali opposed the legislation.

Duale said the question to be answered in the ensuing debacle is whether the Bill was from the IEBC or from the Attorney General.

“If the Bill was from the IEBC, why did the Attorney General write to Parliament saying the Bill has Cabinet approval?” Duale asked, adding that it is a government agenda to decide the winner of the next election.

“There are people prepping ground to rig the next election in favour of Raila. Isn’t the IEBC an independent body? The Bill should have been signed by the chairperson of JLAC. I want IEBC to confirm whether the bill is from them and if so, why is the AG owning it?” the Garissa Township MP said.

Washiali, for his part, asked, “What would happen if IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati was put in a situation where he does not know the results?”

He said the election process would be shrouded in secrecy if the Bill is approved as “it would take as little as Sh1,000 to compromise an election agent.”

Mudavadi said the country risks falling into election-related chaos if the playing field is not levelled up.

“The government must stop the habit of changing the rules of the game at the eleventh hour,” he said.

“This is a bad law and please do not change the law at the last minute in favour of the project. The move will only affect the elections and its credibility,” he said.

Wetang’ula urged MPs allied to Kenya Kwanza to reject amendments that may cause chaos during polls.

“Go and make sure they don’t insert those clauses that will cause problems in our elections. We do not want any cheating in our electoral process,” he added.

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr also opposed the proposed law as unnecessary saying all results would have to be publicised.

Kindiki said MPs allied to the UDA side will not accept the changes terming it a plot to rig the election.

“It’s a plot to steal the election. Kenyans must blacklist legislators who do not want transmission of results to be relayed live,” he said.

Barasa said, “They are mischievous, they are retrogressive; they are taking us back to the days of 2007 post-election violence.”

“We are going towards a better electronic era and anyone who takes us back to the manual process is mischievous,” the UDA-allied lawmaker said.

He said they would put up a fight to defeat the proposed law.

“We will not accept it. We will fight those laws by all means. Technically, we have won by rejecting calls to reduce the period. By the time it will be taken to the Senate, I think it will be time-barred,” Barasa said.

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