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Kenyan opposition approves referendum plan

A statement renewed calls for President Uhuru Kenyatta's ruling Jubilee Coalition to pull Kenyan troops out of Somalia.

 / News Desk
Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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The parliamentary bloc of Kenya's opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) has unanimously endorsed a proposal for party leader Raila Odinga to hold a referendum on major challenges facing the country.

These challenges include insecurity that has gripped Kenya since the East African nation sent troops to war-torn Somalia in 2011.

Approval by the 98-member opposition parliamentary bloc came after a nine-hour meeting at an upscale hotel on the southeastern outskirts of capital Nairobi.

However, the MPs did not say how or when the referendum – to be spearheaded by Odinga – would be held.

"The declining security in the country is a clear demonstration of a regime that has abdicated the highest calling of any responsible government to protect the lives and property of its citizens," CORD Secretary-General Anyang Nyong'o said in a statement in the presence of Odinga and former Kenyan vice-president Kalonzo Musyoka, now number two in the opposition.

"As Kenyans continue to be ravaged by marauding gangs and terrorists all over the country… CORD condemns the Jubilee [ruling party] leadership's hollow rhetoric and never-ending ultimatums that have yielded nothing and exhibited little empathy with the victims of these attacks," Nyong'o said.

The statement went on to make the assertion that the government itself was behind a recent spate of attacks in the country.

"CORD is disturbed and concerned that aspects of insecurity engulfing the coast [region] is the work of agents of the state and are deliberate diversionary tactics devised to tribalize the escalating security situation," the statement read.

"We demand an overhaul of the security and intelligence management of the country and a comprehensive plan for peace and security for all residents of the coastal region in particular and the country in general," the statement added.

The statement renewed calls for President Uhuru Kenyatta's ruling Jubilee Coalition to pull Kenyan troops out of Somalia.

"[We want] the Jubilee administration [to] present the people of Kenya with the roadmap for the withdrawal of our gallant sons and daughters fighting in Somalia, update the country on how many of our soldiers have been killed in that war, what kind of support the state has extended to their families, how much the government is spending on this war, and how much expenditure is being incurred by [African peacekeeping force] AMISOM," the statement read.

The opposition's plan to hold a referendum won praise from some Kenyans.

"This referendum is going to change the face of Kenya," Nairobi-based photographer Abdullah Musa told Anadolu Agency.

"I think [that is] the only way to solve most of the problems we are facing," he said.

"People feel this government is not really doing whatever is necessary… because you can see the rate of insecurity in the country. Every day, every night, people are being massacred. That will make people support this referendum call," he added.

Nancy Wamalwa, a Nairobi businesswoman, also welcomed the move.

"The [opposition plan for a] referendum is better than going through parliament, because through parliament we've always cried, but there is no change," she said.

"So the people want to decide. So the referendum is the best way for the people. If the government has failed, what should the opposition do? They [the opposition] should push them," she said.

Source: World Bulletin


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