Uhuru: Marked ballots supersede election technology

BY THE STAR

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President Uhuru Kenyatta greets Nakuru senator Susan Kihika before the opening of the12th of parliament September 12,2017. Photo/ HEZRON NJOROGE

President Uhuru Kenyatta opened the 12th Parliament yesterday by warning against divisive politics, but NASA boycotted what they called an ‘illegitimate’ event, as did the Supreme Court.

Virtually all opposition lawmakers rallied in Kibera to demand resignation of “partisan” IEBC officials. Otherwise, they said, there would be no fresh election on October 17.

Raila said if those who mismanaged the General Election are not removed, the opposition and its supporters will storm Anniversary Towers and physically eject them.

He strongly hinted at mass protests.

On September 1, the Supreme Court nullified the August 8 presidential election. In a 4-2 ruling, it said Uhuru’s reelection was null and void. It ordered a fresh poll, which will be held on October 17.

Uhuru and his supporters have been infuriated and abused the court but Kenyatta controlled himself before Parliament yesterday, saying he strongly disagreed with the Supreme Court.

Referring to the Supreme Court ruling, the President said the will of the voters should not be invalidated by technicalities.

“It must be understood that the marked ballot represents more than technology, more than computer systems, or even where it was printed. The mark is the choice of a sovereign people. Their choice is sacred and must never be frustrated or ignored,” Kenyatta said.

It was the first time the Chief Justice stayed away from the opening of Parliament — apparently signifying that he disagreed Kenyatta — whose reelection was invalidated — could legally convene the legislature.

While calling for unity and respect for the Constitution, Kenyatta delivered a thinly veiled warning to the opposition lawmakers who had stayed away.

“My government will not tolerate anyone intent on disrupting our hard-won peace and stability. Under no circumstances must Kenyans ever allow our free competitive processes to become a threat to the peace and security of our nation,” he said.

Ruling party lawmakers stamped their feet and cheered.

“We shall continue to encourage vibrant democratic competition, we shall not allow destructive division.”

As he spoke, NASA held a rally in Kibera, rejecting the October 17 date unless IEBC officials resign or are removed for mishandling the General Election.

Raila, Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetang’ula and Musalia Mudavadi attended.

Raila — in what was called the Kibera Declaration — said the opposition will not only boycott October 17 polls conducted by the current IEBC but also ensure there is no election in Kenya.

The opposition singled out CEO Ezra Chiloba, Deputy CEO Marjan Hussein, commissioner Abdi Guliye, Deputy Commission Secretary Betty Nyabuto and Director of ICT James Muhati as some officers who must not handle the rerun.

Others include Immaculate Kassait, Praxedes Tororey, Moses Kipkogey, Sidney Namulungu, Nancy Kariuki and Silas Rotich.

Raila said they will storm IEBC offices and eject the ‘partisan’ officers if they are not removed — action reminiscent of the 2015 anti-IEBC demos that forced the exit of the former IEBC commissioners. The secretariat remained in place.

“We maintain our demands that officials implicated leave or we will go and remove them,” Raila told supporters.

“If the demands are not met, there is no election on October 17,” Raila said.

The former Prime Minister said their visit to IEBC offices earlier yesterday revealed it was positioning itself to again rig the polls.

He said they have tried to comply so necessary reforms are effected but IEBC appears hell-bent on another sham exercise.

Raila demanded Chiloba respond publicly to IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati’s explosive 12-point memo on bungling of the General Election. It cannot be swept under the carpet, he said.

Raila disclosed IEBC officers who treated them “with contempt” when they visited told them the controversial Al Ghurair firm will print the presidential papers again, despite opposition protests.

Kenyatta told Parliament that no arm of the government should frustrate the sovereign will of Kenyans, referring to his apparent numerical victory.

Uhuru warned his government will punish politicians who incite Kenyans.

He said there is no void in the Office of the President.

“I would like to make it abundantly clear the government will not tolerate anyone intent on disrupting our hard-won peace and stability.”

While the opposition calls him a lame duck, Kenyatta said the three arms of government — Executive, Legislature and Judiciary — are working.

“No matter the political noise, I assure every Kenyan and the world every arm of government is in place and operational. There is no void and there is no lacuna. Kenya is progressing along the path drawn for it by the Constitution,” he told the joint sitting.

Unlike his 2013 address when he set out his agenda, Uhuru told legislators to deliver the promises they made to voters.

He cautioned MPs not to misuse their powers to their advance their interests.

“The 12th Parliament has been sworn in at an important constitutional moment requiring you to uphold the supremacy of the Constitution and its institutions,” he Kenyatta said… In the coming days, you will be called upon to be true to that oath. I urge you to do your duty. It is the same oath made when I became President and Commander-in-Chief.”

He told Parliament “Kenyans expect us to understand the weight of responsibility in living up to our oath, and having wisdom and clarity as we carry out our duties.”

He commended Kenyans for elected more women but said more needs to be done to ensure more women are involved in all arms of the government.

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