Nasa sets the stage for political battles

Opposition leaders Raila Odinga and Musalia Mudavadi addressing a Press conference at the Okoa Kenya Secretariat offices in Nairobi on October 31, 2017. photo | dennis onsongo | nmg
Opposition leaders Raila Odinga and Musalia Mudavadi addressing a Press conference at the Okoa Kenya Secretariat offices in Nairobi on October 31, 2017. photo | dennis onsongo | nmg 

Opposition leader Raila Odinga on Tuesday announced the establishment of a people’s assembly, in a move that left a dark cloud of political instability hanging over a country that is already weary of a lengthy electoral season.

Mr Odinga said the assembly would form the basis of his coalition’s opposition to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government, which he described as an illegitimate product of a flawed electoral process.

“Sham elections portend a president, who is in office unconstitutionally. A president elected in this manner cannot legitimately exercise authority on behalf of the people,” he said.

Political analysts reckoned that Mr Odinga’s National Super Alliance’s (Nasa) decision to revert to the popular movement in its war with the Kenyatta government is meant to exercise people power against Jubilee’s tyranny of numbers in Parliament and at county assemblies.

“We announce today the establishment of a people’s assembly that will exist until a legitimate presidency is formed,” he told journalists at the Okoa Kenya offices in Nairobi.

While dismissing the October 26 elections as “a sham” with a 3.5 million voter turnout, Mr Odinga however maintained that Nasa remained open to dialogue.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission declared Uhuru Kenyatta the victor in the repeat presidential poll after he polled 7.5 million of the 19.6 million registered voters.

On the eve of the elections, Mr Odinga announced the transformation of Nasa into the National Resistance Movement (NRM) even as he called on his supporters to boycott goods of those affiliated to the Jubilee coalition.

The Nasa leader reiterated the call Tuesday, adding that the NRM will be responsible for putting in place a vigorous programme for economic boycott and peaceful protests, but fell short of naming any company.

Hardcore Jubilee supporters immediately responded to Mr Odinga’s announcement arguing that while the right to associate and meet is provided for under the Constitution, the move smacked of treason or an attempt to overthrow government.

Independent analysts, however, termed such views extreme and premature arguing that the country should wait and see what plan of action the assembly would come up with.

“The government should wait until the assembly drafts its resolutions and join in the conversation for the good of the country,” said Cyprian Nyamwamu, a governance and political risk analyst at Future of Kenya Foundation.

This is not the first time Kenya is witnessing formation of a people’s assembly. In 1997, a similar convergence contesting tribalism and corruption under President Daniel arap Moi, met in Limuru.

Among the seven co-conveners of the meeting were Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, former chief justice Willy Mutunga and opposition activist Tabitha Seii.

Part of the 11 resolutions arrived at included an end to ethnic clashes, an end to corruption and the drafting a people’s constitution. It was at this meeting that the drafting of the 2010 Constitution began.

African countries where the people’s assembly or the civil disobedience achieved positive results are Benin, Togo and South Africa.