IEBC commissioner Roselyn Akombe resigns, calls election a sham

Oct 19, 2017, 00:24
IEBC commissioner Roselyn Akombe resigns, calls election a sham

Kenya's election board chairman Wafula Chebukati said on Wednesday ahead of a repeat presidential poll on 26 October that it was "difficult" to guarantee the election would be free and fair.

"We need the commission to be courageous and speak out, that this election as planned can not meet the basic expectations of a credible election", she said.

"I will not go down in the history of this country" as a leader who "plunged the country into a worse crisis than I found it", Chebukati said.

The Oct. 26 poll is the re-run of an election that took place in August, where incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta's victory was nullified on procedural grounds.

Odinga last week pulled out of the race, arguing that the mistakes that brought about the annulment of the vote was most likely to be repeated because reforms have not been carried out at the electoral body.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga, whose legal challenge of vote-rigging led to the ruling, last week withdrew from the new election because electoral reforms had not been made.

Roselyn Akombe, a senior member of Kenya's electoral commission (IEBC), has fled to the USA amid death threats ahead of next week's presidential election re-run.

"Without critical changes in key secretariat staff, free, fair and credible elections will surely be compromised".

The commission in its current state can surely not guarantee a credible election on 26 October 2017. "The commission is under siege", she said in a statement issued from NY and dated Tuesday.

Election staff attending training sessions in some opposition strongholds were attacked this week, police said.

Akombe urged Kenyans to remember the violence that followed a disputed 2007 poll, when more than 1,200 people were killed.

IEBC chairman, Wafula Chebukati, said he regretted Ms. Akombe's decision to quit and warned Kenya's political leaders not to "interfere with the process".

"We walk towards the declared date of the 26th of October both as a God-fearing leadership and government", he said in a televised speech. Akombe told the BBC from NY that she had received anonymous threats and feared for her life.

At least 37 people have died in violence since the August vote, although rights group say the actual number killed may have been double that total. "I do not want to be party to such a mockery to electoral integrity", said Dr Akombe.

A week before the August poll, the election commission's head of IT was found tortured and murdered in Nairobi, raising fears of a possible hack of the commission's computer systems.

President Kenyatta has yet to comment on Ms. Akombe's resignation or Mr. Chebukati's criticisms.

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