National Super Alliance (Nasa) presidential candidate Raila Odinga has ruled out the option of setting up a tallying centre outside the country even as he laid out reasons why his candidature is more attractive.
Contrary to widespread speculation that the Opposition coalition was looking to Tanzania to assemble the centre, Mr Odinga said they had no such intentions.
“The fact is that Nasa will do parallel tallying of its votes and we shall do it from here in Kenya where Jubilee also did it in 2013. It is absolutely legal and it is the norm in all jurisdictions that value free, fair and credible elections,” he told the Nation in an interview.
His remarks follow weeks of claims that Tanzania’s President John Magufuli had offered the Opposition a safe haven to put up the centre following fears in the Nasa coalition that the Jubilee Government would frustrate its smooth operations either by jamming the network, shutting down the internet or unleashing the security forces to dismantle it altogether.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale last month claimed that President Magufuli had offered to host the centre, comments that have triggered a silent diplomatic spat between Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, according to sources.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee administration is not taking chances. It is said to have silently reached out to the neighbouring country through the Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed seeking an assurance that they do not plan to meddle in Kenya’s internal affairs.
Mr Odinga explained that nothing was wrong with the move to track the votes as they come in from polling stations across the country.
“Jubilee had a parallel tallying centre which was situated at the Catholic University. They also had their server connected to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) server through Kencall. But because Nasa wants to do parallel tallying, it has suddenly become a crime and the top Jubilee leadership are running all over the place trying to give it a bad name.”
He maintained that they would not announce their own results.
“We fully understand that declaration of final results is the work of IEBC. But we are entitled to tracking our numbers and nothing will stop us from doing it,” he said.
At the same time, the Orange party leader expressed rare confidence in the poll team’s ability to conduct credible elections.
“The IEBC we have today is much more credible than the one we had in 2013. The commission is more ready to engage with the stakeholders and to share information than the one of 2013. It has challenges like the deployment of technology and procurement of materials. As Nasa, we are prepared to work with IEBC and help it succeed,” he said.
The Opposition chief said he was confident of a clear win in the first round of voting.
“When you look at the lay of the land, the country has rebelled against Jubilee. The areas that voted Cord in 2013 have remained intact and more determined to vote against Jubilee again while Jubilee zones have fractured especially in the Rift Valley. Even in Central Kenya, people are asking hard questions of the Uhuru regime and talking of joining hands with the rest of the country in stopping Jubilee,” he said.
“The people of Central Kenya are some of the most active businessmen and women. They feel it when the system has failed and they know this one has failed. Pastoralists are talking of not taking chances again. There is a revolution coming and it will sweep Jubilee out in one round. I think Uhuru and Ruto are sleeping through that revolution,” he added.
Even though Jubilee is advancing the same narrative that nothing had really changed in the political architecture in last four years, and that if it had indeed shifted then it was in their favour, Mr Odinga said other than the Opposition growing bigger and stronger, the prevailing circumstances were working for Nasa.
“Many things have changed since 2013. We have a much more formidable coalition than the one we had in 2013 with the coming on board of Chama cha Mashinani (under Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto) and Amani National Congress (led by Mr Musalia Mudavadi). Even more importantly, the mood of the country has changed.
Farmers, teachers, doctors, pastoralists, students and the youth, are all disappointed. We all recall the dazzling promises Uhuru and Ruto made; like five football stadia, one-million acre irrigated farms for food security, laptops and such things. None has been delivered,” he said.
Mr Odinga believes that the prevailing economic hardship the country is facing, with families struggling to fend for themselves, was the greatest indictment on Mr Kenyatta’s administration.
“Two months to elections, there is simply no food. We have resorted to subsidised unga (flour) that has run out of stock in supermarkets and it is from maize imported supposedly from Mexico,” he said.
“Sugar in our supermarkets is mostly from Kakira in Uganda. The rice is from Pakistan. I understand it is imported by spouses of senior Jubilee officials. What more evidence do we need to accept that Uhuru and Ruto have failed? A government that cannot give people food is good for nothing,” he said.
On the sibling rivalry within Nasa he said, “All the parties are members of Nasa.
It therefore really does not matter which one wins where. It all adds up to Nasa vote.”
In areas where Nasa has fielded multiple candidates for the same position — like Mombasa where Governor Hassan Joho (ODM) is facing Senator Hassan Omar (Wiper) — there is real possibility that Jubilee may benefit.