November 23rd 2017

Top Stories / 2017 Elections

Threats on IEBC commissioners signal escalation of Kenyan election crisis

As the Chief EU Observer Marietje Schaake noted in last week's report,” There have to date not been any investigations against senior public officers who have reportedly breached the law. Some stakeholders have questioned the ability of the ODPP to challenge more senior leaders.”

By Salim LoneMonday, 18 Sep 2017 09:19 EAT

NASA principal Kalonzo Musyoka addressing a rally at Jacaranda Grounds, Embakasi East Constituency, in Nairobi yesterday.

Kenya's electoral crisis is not merely about a change in the election date but about whether the election will be held at all if critically-required changes are not made by the Electoral Commission.

NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga has stated repeatedly that he is ready for the election but it requires that a very simple condition be met - the election must be conducted on a level playing field, and be free, fair, credible and transparent. 

The international community needs to engage robustly with all sides urgently to prevent this crisis from growing needlessly. There is currently a vast gulf between NASA and Jubilee on how this October election should be organized, and an agreement is needed to ensure in particular the removal of those officials in the electoral commission who rigged the August election so badly that our Supreme Court had to nullify it.

The cost to taxpayers of the rigged election was in the billions of shillings. Those responsible for this criminal fiasco and disaster must be brought to justice, including those who organized and carried out the torture of our late brother and patriot Chris Msando, the election's chief IEBC IT official.     

As is known, Mr Odinga has been engaging with Mr Wafula Webukati, IEBC Chairman, to find remedies for what went wrong and to agree a date that ensures new, more transparent and mutually agreed systems are in place. The EU observer mission and others have been actively seeking ways to reform and rapidly improve the system, and the EUOM has urged the speedy investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the electoral crimes that were committed.

As the Chief EU Observer Marietje Schaake noted in last week's report,” There have to date not been any investigations against senior public officers who have reportedly breached the law. Some stakeholders have questioned the ability of the ODPP to challenge more senior leaders.” 

In the meantime, it is alarming that while the crude threats made against the Supreme Court Justices by President Uhuru Kenyatta - which were highlighted by Mr John Kerry in his article in the NY Times this weekend - have stopped, threats by others continue. That IEBC Commissioner Roselyn Akombe, who was earlier removed from a flight travelling to New York, feels her life is now in danger is a sign of the depraved impunity that stalks our land.

If such a pivotal and internationally known figure working on crucial arrangements for the next election can be threatened with death, what about all the ordinary Kenyans working to make the election free and fair? Will they dare raise their voices? 

No one lifted a finger to ensure IEBC's IT chief Chris Msando's safety when he sought protection against threats he was receiving. All who are concerned about peace in Kenya should ​demand and end to such threats. It should be made clear that the sternest actions, including international, would follow another election-related killing.  Steps must be taken to protect her ​ immediately. 

​How much faith can we have in the next election being free and fair in such an environment of fear and threats?

“I have been to Somalia, Yemen, Jordan, Iraq and even Libya for security assessment missions but on a personal basis I have never felt this insecure,” Dr Akombe told the Sunday Nation. Is this what our Kenya has come to?

.





Stay Connected