Kenya electoral head says fair election can't be guaranteed next week


Wafula Chebukati spoke hours after a top Kenyan electoral official resigned and fled to the United States, saying the election on October 26 can not be free and fair.

Wafula Chebukati spoke to reporters hours after a top Kenyan electoral official, Roselyn Akombe, resigned and said the vote just eight days away "cannot meet the basic expectations of a credible election".

Mr. Chebukati says he has given credence to this view and has given the politicians the "yellow card".

Next week's poll is a court-ordered re-run of the August 8 presidential poll, after the Supreme Court found the victory of incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta to be marred by irregularities and illegalities.

In withdrawing his candidacy last week, Odinga said the election board had not carried out reforms including the firing of key officials who he blames for the mistakes of August 8. Not when Commissioners and staff are intimidated by political actors and protestors and fear for their lives.

Kega is now calling on President Uhuru Kenyatta to sign the Elections Amendment Bill 2017 into law to ensure that the repeat poll is not "sabotaged".

"Not when in parts of the country, the training of presiding officers is being rushed for fear of attacks from protesters", said Roselyn Akombe, who had been a commissioner on the electoral board.

He said that without changes to key secretariat staff - the permanent members of the IEBC - a "free, fair and credible election will surely be compromised".

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"Under such conditions, it is hard to guarantee free fair and credible elections", Chebukati said.

Mr. Odinga insists though that filling out the form is not required, and has been organizing mass protests to demand electoral reforms before the re-run is to take place. "The commission is under siege", she said in a statement issued from NY and dated Tuesday. Young protesters have also broken up meetings by election officials in the opposition stronghold of western Kenya this week. At least four people have been killed during protests following the court ruling.

Akombe urged Kenyans to remember the violence that followed a disputed 2007 poll, when more than 1,200 people were killed. She told BBC radio she fled after receiving threats from both sides.

Political uncertainty has blunted Kenya's economy.

The election board said it has conducted some reforms and the vote will go ahead with seven candidates including Odinga on the ballot.

But Kenyatta said in a televised speech on Wednesday: "We walk towards the declared date of the 26th of October both as a God-fearing leadership and government".

Akombe said that she had questioned her role at the commission for many months, but had "soldiered on".

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