19 October 2017

Kenya: Wafula Chebukati Cancels Meeting With 7 Presidential Candidates

Photo: Capital FM
IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati and CEO Ezra Chiloba.

The electoral commission has adjourned its Thursday meeting with presidential candidates to a later date.

The commission, in a text message to journalists, said it would communicate once President Kenyatta and National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader Raila Odinga mutually agree on a new date.

RAILA

"Kindly be informed that the planned meeting between IEBC and presidential Candidates has been adjourned to a later date to be agreed by both parties, we shall communicate the new date in due time," the commission said.

Mr Odinga had agreed to the commission in person as President Kenyatta said he would send a representative.

But early Thursday morning, Mr Odinga had told Nation that he would not attend the meeting called by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati on Wednesday night.

Hours later, Mr Odinga's spokesman Dennis Onyango sent a short text message to Nation saying "we have decided to go and meet Chebukati."

The discussions were to be held at the Serena Hotel in the capital Nairobi from 2.30 pm.

It was not immediately clear what prompted the sudden change of heart given that Mr Odinga had moments earlier categorically stated that he has no business attending a meeting to discuss an election he will not participate in.

CHEBUKATI

"Chebukati has said he cannot guarantee credible elections but he is proceeding with it anyway. Nasa said the election cannot be credible and withdrew from the contest. Why would Raila attend a meeting for an election he is not participating in?" said Mr Onyango.

"With or without invitation, meeting IEBC about elections is not on our agenda," he added.

The Nation learnt that Mr Odinga's office had not received Mr Chebukati's invitation as of Thursday morning.

On his part President Kenyatta had said he would send a representative to the meeting.

Mr Kenyatta's spokesman Manoah Esipisu had told Nation that the president would not personally attend the meeting due to a heavy campaign programme.

RALLIES

"The president is always represented at those meetings. All he needs is a briefing on the election preparations, he does not have anything to say. He will be represented," said Mr Esipisu.

Mr Esipisu said Mr Kenyatta would instead address campaign rallies in Bungoma, Vihiga and Nandi counties.

In his invitation letter, Mr Chebukati had stated; "in my capacity as the Chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries commission and the Nation Returning Officer, I observe that it is necessary to have a consultative meeting between yourselves and your running mates under the chairmanship of the Commission as our country gears up for the fresh presidential election. Indeed, the Commission remains committed to deliver a free, fair and credible election and I observe that the consultative meeting on the preparations and the conduct of the fresh election is pre-emptory towards that end."

JIRONGO

He added: "I further write and ask that you conscientiously refrain and also refrain your supporters and/or agents before, during or after the meeting, from any utterances, actions and/or inactions that may negate the value of the consultative meeting."

It was copied to Mr Odinga, President Kenyatta, Dr Ekuru Aukot, Abduba Dida, Joseph Nyagah, Prof Michael Wainaina and Dr Japheth Kaluyu.

It was not, however, copied to the eighth presidential candidate during the August 8 election Cyrus Jirongo, who has since been declared bankrupt.

Mr Jirongo was not invited yet reports from Dubai indicate he is still on the ballot paper after he appealed the court decision.

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