Kenya police bar ECK staff from offices

December 29, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 29 – Armed policemen on Monday morning barred Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) staff from accessing their offices.

Among those caught in the blockade was the ousted vice chairman Kihara Muttu who had gone to the commission’s offices at Nairobi’s Anniversary Towers.

Mr Muttu ran into a battery of journalists and hastily retreated to a neighbouring supermarket as he tried to avoid questions from the reporters.

“Why do you want to take pictures of my face?  Just leave me in peace,” Mr Muttu could be heard telling photojournalists and TV cameramen who brought business to a standstill as they jostled to get his picture.

Two commissioners Abdi Ibrahim and Joseph Hamisi Dena were spotted near Anniversary Towers which hosts the offices of the disbanded electoral body.

A former employee of the commission said they did not expect to be locked out as they were only reporting back to work after the Christmas holidays.

He said: “In fact before we broke off for Christmas we were given a letter by the commission secretary (Suleiman Chege) to go for Christmas and resume duty today on 29th, only to be told by Administration Police officers that we are not supposed to access the offices.”

After several attempts the staff were finally allowed into the premises only to clear their desks with strict instructions to pick the belongings.

“We’ve been told to pick our small personal effects because of the compulsory leave” said a former staffer.

The commission’s former staff however declined to fill out redeployment forms which require them to give additional information on their terms of employment and educational qualifications to facilitate any redeployment.

Said the staffer who identified himself as Peter: “No we have not (signed the forms) because we are still waiting for communication from our bosses.”

The Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura is expected to meet representatives of the employees on Tuesday at Harambee House.

The ECK was officially disbanded last week when President Mwai Kibaki assented to the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill which paved way for the creation of an Interim Independent Electoral Commission.

The over 600 workers are supposed to report to the Directorate of Personnel Management for their redeployments into the civil service.

However the government said it would not automatically absorb all of them into the Public Service.


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