NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 19 – Newly appointed Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati has assumed office, with an assurance to Kenyans that his team will deliver a credible election in August.
Chebukati was speaking at the Judiciary headquarters after taking the oath of office administered by the Chief Justice David Maraga.
“Our short-term goal is to deliver a free, fair and credible election which is 200 days away. Therefore, we must hit the ground running by ensuring that all the processes and systems involved are in place,” he said.
Chebukati took the oath of office alongside Commissioners Consolata Nkatha Bucha Maina, Boya Molu, Dr Roselyn K. Akombe, Ambassador Dr Paul Kurgat, Margaret Wanjala Mwachanya and Professor Abdi Guliye.
He indicated that the Commission’s long-term goal is to transform the processes and systems of IEBC to make them sustainable to gain public trust and confidence.
“The Commission will pay special attention to an in-depth review and status update of its strategic plan with a view to tap new ideas and suggestions from the new Commissioners who bring on board diverse skills and competencies acquired locally and internationally – herein lies the strength of this commission,” he stated.
Attorney General Githu Muigai who also spoke at the swearing-in ceremony reminded the team of the difficult task ahead, and urged them to remain focussed.
“We stand ready, able and willing. We are always a phone call away to help you but not to interfere with the free exercise of your authority. We would like to appeal to the politicians not to attack public officials because it is demoralising and because it interferes with the independence of those offices,” he stated.
Speaking during the ceremony, Chief Justice Maraga stated the need for the Commission to conduct an election within constitutional principles.
He stated that this will inspire confidence, trust and legitimacy to those elected.
“The resulting peace and tranquillity as a result of a free and fair election attract both foreign and domestic investments. No investor would wish to invest in a country whose government’s legitimacy is questioned,” he stated.
He further stressed that the management of elections is of crucial importance to the stability and prosperity of the nation.
“Your obligation is not to the Selection Panel who selected you, or to Parliament which approved your nomination, or to the President who appointed you, or to the Chief Justice who has sworn you to your offices today, but to the Constitution and the people of Kenya,” he stated.
Chebukati and the six IEBC Commissioners will take over from the Issack Hassan-led team, effectively putting them in charge of the August General Election.
The outgoing IEBC commissioners agreed to leave office early on condition that they get paid on the remaining period, ending a political standoff over their continued service.
The delay in the appointment of the new IEBC Commissioners had threatened to delay the election slated for August this year, prompting street protests by the Opposition which demanded that they quit office, leading to a bi-partisan process by the leaders from across the political divide.