Top Stories / National
Thursday, 23 Jun 2016 10:59 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
The opposition in Kenya was forced to task Western diplomats in Nairobi, who persuaded them to accept the parliamentary option for dialogue about urgent electoral reforms, to extract a firm undertaking from the ruling Jubilee coalition that all resolutions by the joint Parliamentary Committee to be formed will be endorsed in toto.
A top opposition legislator, Timothy Bosire, told the Free Press on Thursday morning that his side led by Raila Odinga asked the American and British embassies to put pressure on the Jubilee administration to ensure that the bipartisan dialogue on the electoral commission which is due to kick off this week will not end in a new deadlock.
The fear by the opposition side has been that the Jubilee side of President Uhuru Kenyatta could use its parliamentary majority, popularly known as the ‘tyranny of numbers’ to reverse agreements arrived at during the dialogue at the parliamentary stage.
"We know Jubilee are not interested in free and fair elections. Therefore, they may turn around after the dialogue is through and use the tyranny of numbers and presidential veto powers to strike out key recommendations crafted to reform elections and the electoral body," said Bosire, a first time member of the lower house who is a close ally of the opposition leader.
Opposition calls for national dialogue to overhaul the electoral commission and institute electoral reforms ahead of the 2017 general elections had been fiercely opposed by President Uhuru and his Jubilee allies. However, the president gave in mid last week following pressure by Western diplomats, trade unionists, smaller political parties and religious groups.
The government's condition to only undertake the exercise through Parliament had been opposed by the opposition. The government also feared that a process undertaken outside Parliament could see a strengthening of the religious sector and civil society whose clout Jubilee has systematically undercut over the three years it has been in power.
But while ambassadors of the US and Britain brought the two sides to agree on broad-based talks, the question of securing the final resolutions reached by the mediating teams is the one delaying the kickoff of the process.