11 September 2017

Kenya: Bishop Rotich Helps 'Fix' IEBC Problems

Photo: Macharia Mwangi/The Nation
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati is joined by his commissioners in a press conference at Great Rift Valley Lodge, Naivasha, on September 11, 2017 after a retreat.

Electoral Commission chief executive officer Ezra Chiloba was last evening thrust back into the team that will manage the fresh presidential election on October 17, after a church-mediated retreat in Naivasha.

IEBC officials were locked up at the Great Rift Valley Lodge in Naivasha for more than 10 hours on Monday in a meeting -- said to be heated -- following sharp divisions between the commissioners last week.

At about 5.30pm, Mr Chiloba saw off Bishop Alfred Rotich of the Catholic Military Ordinariate after a brief chat.

UNITY

When contacted by the Nation last night, the Bishop declined to discuss what transpired at the meeting.

"I have heard the chairman has already issued a statement. I have not seen it personally or even heard what he has said," he said.

Bishop Korir was joined by motivational speaker Dr Wale Akinyemi and university lecturer Dr Peter Kiriri at the meeting, whose theme was "together with the Nation".

At the news conference addressed by chairman Wafula Chebukati, the commissioners and Mr Chiloba put on a brave face and display of unity.

"We want to assure the country that despite the challenges we have experienced in the recent past, the commission is more than committed to ensure that the country has a successful election on October 17," Mr Chebukati said.

REVIEW

The commission, he said, had resolved to "solely" focus on preparations for the repeat election, given that "we are working under serious time constraints".

In a statement issued after the two-day meeting, the commissioners said they had embarked on a review of the August 8 General Election, with the objective of improving on the processes, although they were yet to get the detailed judgment from the Supreme Court.

"Ours is to learn and improve for the sake of the people," Mr Chebukati said in the one page statement.

"We are coming out as one team with a vision that will enable us deliver on our mandate," he added.

"It was evident that this retreat was necessary. It helped to clarify issues of concern and we are now better off than when we came here," a smiling Mr Chebukati declared.

FEEDBACK

He announced that Mr Chiloba, who had initially been sidelined following the annulled presidential election, had been given the task of assessing the problems experienced in the August 8 poll.

The IEBC chairman said the controversial leaked memo he sent to Mr Chiloba was discussed at the meeting and it was resolved that responses from the secretariat, which the chief executive heads, would be reviewed and communicated to the public at an appropriate time.

"We wish to urge the nation to be patient with us in the coming days as we prepare for the fresh presidential election. Our commitment to deliver a free, fair, and credible election remains steadfast," Mr Chebukati added.

NON-PARTISAN

He also denied that any of the officials was allied to any political party, saying they were all working for the people.

He also denied any association with Nasa, challenging his accusers to table evidence of alleged night meetings with the opposition leaders.

"We, as commissioners, are referees and a referee must be neutral," he said.

"We are not partisan, none of us is in Jubilee or Nasa, you are bound to hear so many things and allegations. But the truth is we have not held any secret meetings with any of the political candidates," he stated.

MEETING

On Tuesday, the commission is expected to hold a joint meeting with both Jubilee and National Super Alliance leaders to resolve issues raised by each political side to pave way for the elections.

Nasa has demanded the ouster of Mr Chiloba and other senior officials while Jubilee maintains that the commission must handle the election in its current form.

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