CORD to re-energise referendum push and fight new security laws

The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy ( CORD) is planning to scale up the referendum push in response to presidential assent to the controversial new security laws.

Speaking during Christmas festivities at St Peter’s ACK in his Bondo rural home, CORD leader Raila Odinga said the new security laws had “messed up Christmas for Kenyans.”

“The Jubilee leaders cancelled the gains the country has achieved at a price by introducing security laws that have forced Kenyans to have a gloomy Christmas season,” he said.

But the former prime minster exuded confidence that the New Year would restore hope to Kenyans, saying “we believe the High Court will rule that the new laws are unconstitutional because that is what it is”. The court is expected to rule on the matter on January 5.

He, however, did not specify what they would do should the court fail to rule in the opposition’s favour, although CORD had previously threatened to call for mass action.

However, Raila said the opposition is planning to re-energise the referendum push and address runaway insecurity.

“The referendum push is not dead; we just took a break to lay proper strategies. Next year we plan to make a major comeback,” he told a Christian congregation that gathered to celebrate Christmas.

The coalition’s ‘Okoa Kenya’ initiative appeared to have lost steam after the Council of Governors entered negotiations with the government to end their ‘Pesa Mashinani’ drive.

The referendum bid seeks to tame rising insecurity, address the high cost of living and strengthen devolution.

The coalition wants the security function devolved to the county level to enable governors have a say in the security of their counties.

CORD has also been vocal in its demand to have Kenyan forces withdraw from Somalia, a move opposed by the government.

Further, the coalition is proposing reforms in the security organs, in what it calls “de-tribalising” the security apparatus to make it more responsive to the country’s security needs.

The government has instead introduced the new anti-terrorism laws in the hope that punitive laws will secure the country, a move that has met fierce resistance from the opposition. The opposition has expressed apprehension that the new laws will be used to stifle alternative views.

CORD on Tuesday moved to court to challenge the new laws and have them declared unconstitutional. At the Bondo event, CORD leaders vowed to fight the new laws they described as draconian.

Taita Taveta Senator Dan Mwazo revealed that Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, who is a co-principal in CORD, had invited senators allied to the coalition to lay down strategies on how to fight the new laws.

“In the Senate, Jubilee does not have a huge numerical strength like in the National Assembly. Should the new laws get to the Senate, we believe we will defeat them,” he said.

Nominated MP Oburu Oginga said the security laws were targeting CORD leaders and aimed at weakening the opposition.

“Although they think they can kill the opposition through these repressive laws, they will soon fall victims of it,” he said.

Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda claimed the laws would take the country back to dark days of a single party state.