By JAMES MBAKA and RAWLINGS OTIENO for the STANDARD
Demands for CORD leader Raila Odinga to apologise over remarks linking the military to alleged rigging in the last presidential elections has created a firestorm, with coalition MPs terming them as â€œridiculous.â€
This came a day after the electoral body and the Secretary to the Cabinet, Francis Kimemia, demanded that the former Prime Minister takes back his words and apologises. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) wants the former Prime Minister to prove his claims and if not, withdraw them altogether and apologise to the military and the commission. Kimemia, on his part, insisted that the polls were free and credible and that the results announced at the polling stations in the constituencies were the same as those announced at Bomas.
On Wednesday, CORD said Kimemia has no authority to comment on political matters while the IEBC reputation was no longer intact. â€œIt is our considered position that the IEBC has neither honour nor reputation to protect and therefore deserves no apology on matters of integrity of the 2013 elections,â€ said a statement sent to newsrooms. Speaking to the press in Nairobi, the ODM legislators accused the IEBC of allowing itself to be used. MPs Mr Paul Otuoma (Funyula), Mr Timothy Bosire (Kitutu Masaba), Mr Manson Nyamweya (South Mugirango), Mr Simba Arati (Dagoretti North), Mr Florence Mutua (Busia Woman Rep) and Mr Junet Mohamed (Suna East) claimed that some elements within government were hiding behind the electoral body to threaten Raila.
Raila, while addressing supporters in his Kisumu turf at the weekend, claimed that it was after CORD agents were flushed out allegedly by the security forces that the election results were manipulated. â€œAny candidate in an election is entitled to agents at the tallying centre. Yet it is a fact that CORD agents, nearly all of them Cabinet ministers, were ejected from the Bomas of Kenya tallying centre by security officers acting on instructions of the IEBC,â€ ODM said in the statement yesterday. Raila had spoken in his native Dholuo, but Otuoma says his party boss was misinterpreted.
At the press conference, CORD MPs said NSAC was an advisory body to the National Security Council, and should not involve itself with the public and politics. Instead, said the party, the military and IEBC should respond to the claims through proper channels.
â€œAt this point, we would have seen at least a senior military officer paying a courtesy call on the former Prime Minister about the issue,â€ said Otuoma. Final report CORD further noted that one year after the elections, IEBC was yet to present a credible, final report on the election. In a statement signed by Communications Manager Tabitha Mutemi, the IEBC said the allegations were false, untimely and should have been raised during the court petition following the disputed outcome of the March 4 polls.
The electoral body said election observers, both at the national tallying centre and in polling stations across the country, had not raised an issue with the alleged involvement of the military. The MPs termed IEBCâ€™s demand for an apology as â€˜unnecessary and political terrorismâ€™.
Otuoma asked the IEBC to respond to Railaâ€™s claims through proper channels. â€œNo one should think that he/she can go around intimidating Raila. He is the former PM and if he has raised an issue, that should form the basis of investigation. His is not hearsay,â€ said Otuoma at Orange House. The Funyula MP regretted that such statements from junior civil servants were likely to jeopardise the integrity of the commission as an institution. â€œCivil servants have their work cut out; let them leave politicians to do their business which they know better,â€ said Otuoma.
On his part, Nyamweya faulted the IEBC for â€œplaying cheap games that only erode the electoral bodyâ€™s mandate to manage electionsâ€. â€œThe former PM has made his case. We do not expect that to degenerate into a tirade of heavy words from the commission that knows what exactly it did,â€ claimed Nyamweya.
Addressing the press at Orange House, Junet said Raila did not mean that the military had a role in the elections, but rather he likened the activities that took place before the announcement of the results to a military coup. Junet instead challenged Kimemia to explain to Kenyans whether or not the Supreme Court judges hearing the petition were intimidated. â€œAs a civil servant, Kimemia has no authority to comment on political matters,â€ said Junet. â€œThe demand for an apology from Kimemia is baffling and points to a panic rush to hide the truth. We are calling upon the government to instead apologise over Kimemiaâ€™s remarks,â€ said Junet.