, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17 – Embattled Commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission led by Chairman Issack Hassan put on a brave face Tuesday, stating that they will not resign from office, and in a spirited defence maintained their innocence against claims by the Opposition that they have been compromised.
Hassan told the House Justice and Legal Affairs Committee that they would only leave office if Parliament found them guilty of any wrongdoing.
“Sometimes we feel like we are being told just accept and plead guilty, we will have some mitigation for you; but that is not something that we will accept… with all due respect, we are not guilty of anything, we’d rather go to jail to protest our innocence,” Hassan said.
The IEBC chief stated that the commission has been subjected to extreme injustices and falsehoods which have created a negative image against them.
He emphasised that the commission will continue to undertake its duties without fear or favour.
“It will be a tragedy if you changed your name to Injustice and Illegal Committee, you must be the first people to promote justice and the rule of the law. I don’t think it will be right for this committee to organise the meeting where other members can be called because that will become another forum which is very ugly and giving people the power and the audience and the publicity to insult because we have encountered in some of these forums what I would consider market place insults and not civil discussions,” said the IEBC boss.
Hassan further emphasised that the commission will continue engaging all stakeholders on the electoral process and called on the CORD leadership to approach the matter soberly rather than resorting to mass action.
“As a commission we believe we are best placed to give this country the best election next year and we will leave after our term expires,” he added. “Those demonstrating are knocking on the wrong door; they should come here after they have finished making noise. You cannot insult us out of office.”
The IEBC Chairman turned down an offer by the committee chairman Samuel Chepkonga to mediate talks between the commission and the Opposition who have been holding weekly protests to demand their ejection from office because Kenyans have lost trust in them.
“Our suggestion has been let us talk as Kenyans, let us find a way forward in terms of various issues that we disagree – you cannot just stonewall and say, I cannot talk to you, it doesn’t matter who you think you are. When you listen to someone it does not mean you must agree with that person, but you still have a right,” Chepkonga pleaded.
The electoral body has come under fire after the clergy and civil societies joined the calls for their reconstitution to ensure free, fair and peaceful 2017 elections.
The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Council of Churches of Kenya last month raised concern that the institutions Kenyans looked up to for fair elections were already soiled by claims of graft and lack of independence.