With the “irreducible demands”, NASA is hell-bent on ensuring no polls

With the “irreducible demands”, NASA is hell-bent on ensuring no polls

Chaos returned to the streets of Nairobi yesterday. Business was brought to a standstill in the Central Business District surrounding the Anniversary Towers, the building that houses the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

The demonstrations were felt as far as Kenyatta Avenue and Moi Avenue, two of Nairobi’s major arteries. All morning, groups of youths – obviously NASA supporters – marched up and down these avenues, bringing normal business to a standstill. There was fear in the air of potential violence.

The area around the Anniversary Towers is a key part of the city as it houses hundreds of corporates. All the major banks have branches here. There are two or three four-star hotels. Hundreds of small and middle companies, the kind that employ tens of Kenyans each, have offices here. These businesses were forced to close for the better part of the day yesterday due to the demonstrations. And they had plenty of reason to.
The last time such demonstrations shook the city was mid last year. CORD had called out its men, and thousands of its supporters. The city was turned into a battle ground, with demonstrators engaging the police in running battles. It wanted all IEBC commissioners, led by Chairman Issack Hassan, out.

Teargas filled the streets every Monday, the day CORD – the precursor of NASA – had chosen for the demonstrations. For thousands of Kenyans who wanted nothing to do with the protests, this part of the city was a no-go zone.

At some point, the series of weekly protests threatened to spill out of control when the business community and supporters of Jubilee opted to take on CORD’s demonstrators head on. They had grown tired of endless demonstrations. However, before the protests took an uglier turn, then the church stepped in and stalemate was resolved. The process of putting in place a new commission also began.

More than one year down the line, a new electoral commission in place, we are back to teargas and endless running battles. All because of the scramble to oust one man, CEO chief executive Ezra Chiloba.

With a list of “irreducible demands”, NASA is hell-bent on ensuring the October 26 presidential elections do not take place entirely or are conducted purely on its terms. Theirs is an epic example of a player not only deciding the referee and his assistants but also instructing them on the kind of outcome they want to see.

NASA’s obsession with Chiloba is just a red herring meant to deflect attention from its fear for polls. Its unpreparedness and unwillingness to participate in the polls continue to grow each new day.

The country was left deeply divided following the Supreme Court decision that invalidated President Uhuru Kenyatta’s election last month. And political passions have been continuously stirred by protagonists. It is therefore misguided and reckless for NASA to call its supporters to the streets at these tenuous movements. What if Jubilee supporters take to the streets too? A confrontation could ensue and before we know it, we are mired in a cauldron of mayhem.

Why did NASA refuse to halt the protests until after the meeting called by IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati?
Raila Odinga and his allies should know that they are doing more harm than good to national stability. The peace that Kenya enjoys should not be put at risk just to satisfy their selfish demands.

IEBC has already made commendable progress in meeting most of their demands: the election date has been pushed ahead from the initial October 17, the head of ICT at the commission has been sent on leave while the director of legal affairs is also on leave awaiting retirement. There are other far-reaching changes that the commission has committed to implement. It does not make logic for NASA to remain combative.

Hon Sarah Korere, Laikipia North MP

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