NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenyans are split on the proposed changes to the
electoral laws by the ruling party Jubilee ahead of repeat polls
scheduled on Oct. 26.
While some, in particular
president Uhuru Kenyatta’s supporters, endorse the changes,
those supporting opposition National Super Alliance (NASA)
leader Raila Odinga believe the amendments are nothing but a
The changes, which Odinga has opposed, widen political
divisions in the East African nation among the electorate and
One radical change Jubilee proposes is that if only one
candidate remains in a fresh presidential election, he will be
declared president-elect without polls being held.
The bill, currently in Parliament, further proposes a
custodial sentence of up to 15 years for any electoral officials
who knowingly refuses to sign, submits incomplete forms or
willfully alters or falsifies documents relating to elections.
It also proposes to strip the powers of announcing the winner
of a presidential poll from the chairman of the electoral
commission to any other commissioner.
Odinga has termed the changes a plan by the Kenyatta to rig
the forthcoming polls and called out on his supporters to resist
through protests starting next Monday.
"You cannot change the rules of the game when the match is
"Why go to the polls when the laws have been tailored to
favour one candidate?" Victor Ondiek, Odinga’s supporter posed
The welder, running a workshop in Nairobi, noted that the
opposition should do everything within its powers to oppose the
"Even if it is through street protests or in the courts,
these laws must be stopped.
"They have been designed to install dictatorship in the
country, the reason why they are being fast-tracked in
Parliament," he noted.
Building contractor Bernard Mutua also said if the ruling
party truly won the elections on Aug. 8, which were overturned
by the Supreme Court, then they would not be rushing to amend
"This is a clear indication that the polls were rigged,
therefore they want to ensure that they do it again and no one
stops them, including the Supreme Court," he said.
Ondiek and Mutua declared that they would not participate in
the Oct. 26 polls if the laws are changed and the reforms NASA
had demanded at the electoral commission are not made.
Meanwhile, Jubilee supporters are happy with the changes and
believe they are the remedy to ending the lengthy electioneering
"These laws are meant to cure what the Supreme Court
highlighted in its ruling as the reasons why it cancelled the
Aug. 8 polls.
"I support them because we need to move forward as a country
by getting out of the current political stalemate," said George
Ndung’u, who runs a mobile-phone shop in Nairobi.
Ndung’u blamed the ongoing political bickering in the country
for the poor performance of his business, noting his sales have
"I barely sell these days.
"Business is bad and it is all because of politics.
"Why not change the laws and get it right then move forward
as a country because we have lives to live?" he posed.
However, besides NASA, among those who oppose the changes are
workers’ unions, the electoral commission and the clergy.
"What they (Jubilee) are doing is tribalizing the country
further, which is not good," said Francis Atwoli, a trade
unionist, on Thursday.
Anglican Church of Kenya Bishops led by Archbishop Jackson
ole Sapit also condemned the move by Jubilee, noting they are
further dividing the country as they were not arrived at by
consensus with the opposition.
But Kenyatta on Friday defended the controversial changes to
electoral laws, noting they will prevent future mistakes in
elections and raise the bar on annulment of polls by the Supreme
Kenyatta reiterated that elections would be held on Oct. 26
and urged the opposition to puts its house in order and face