Kenya’s Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) is calling for the disbandment of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for what they say is failure to make key democratic decisions. This follows the commission’s decision to reject signatures presented to it by the opposition in its quest for a constitutional referendum. CORD, Kenya’s main opposition party, accuses the electoral body of colluding with the current government to undermine the Okoa Kenya referendum initiative.
On March 22, 2016, the electoral commission rejected CORD’s Okoa Kenya proposal to amend the constitution, citing massive irregularities in the signed petition documents presented by the opposition. CORD had presented 1.6 million signatures to the IEBC as stipulated by law in order to meet the required threshold for a constitutional referendum only for the electoral commission to reject over 700,000 signatures on the basis of inconsistency.
Addressing the media, IEBC chairman Mr. Ahmed Issack Hassan announced that the referendum proposal fell short of the required one million signatures from registered voters, noting that only 891,598 of the presented signatures were admissible.
In a quick response, the opposition – led by CORD principal and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga – said the electoral commission is operating like a state agency and has ignored the constitutional requirements that give it power to work independently. The leaders also noted that the trend by the commission might affect the much-awaited 2017 general elections.
Reading a press statement at a Nairobi Hotel, former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said that the IEBC was under pressure from certain quarters and that the opposition was ready to bring to and end governance by fraud and subversion.
“Kenyans are marching on sadder but wiser after the fraud imposed on them by the most incompetent, most corrupt and most confused leadership in our history,” Mr. Kalonzo read.
The opposition has been at loggerheads with the electoral body since the last general election, which they claimed was rigged. Returning from a sabbatical leave in the United States of America in 2014, opposition leader Odinga made several demands to the current administration, one of which was the disbandment of the electoral commission.
Since then, the opposition has been piling pressure on IEBC despite the fact that the commission has since overseen several by-elections, some of which have favored the opposition.