NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 3 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has invited presidential candidates in the October 26 fresh presidential election for a consultative forum on preparedness for the poll.
The invitation comes a day after the IEBC held talks with 12 foreign envoys led by US Ambassador Robert Godec and Britain’s Deputy High Commissioner Susie Kitchens who asked the political class to respect the independence of the poll agency even as they urged it to be firm.
“IEBC must act decisively and everyone needs to respect its independence. It would be impossible to re-make IEBC in a way that satisfies all political demands,” Godec noted in a joint statement following the meeting held at Bomas of Kenya Monday.
Following collapse of talks between representatives of the Jubilee Party, National Super Alliance (NASA) and the commission last Thursday, IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati said he wanted to engage directly with principals of the two political formations blaming its foot soldiers of grandstanding.
“I just hope that the next meeting we have, everyone comes with a sober mind taking into account that Kenya is bigger than us. My appeal is that the next meeting we call we shall insist that the candidates themselves attend,” Chebukati said at the time.
In their media brief on Monday, the diplomats urged Jubilee and NASA to tone down on political rhetoric saying hardliners risk impeding the electoral process.
They also urged the Parliament to reconsider proposed amendments to the Elections Act and the Election Offences Act saying they are ill-timed.
“Wise reforms to an established electoral process take time. They require a thoughtful reflection and broad agreement from all parties. Well established international best practice is to avoid changes to electoral rules just prior to an election,” Godec said.
Jubilee has however defended its clamour for change refuting claims that the proposed amendments would affect IEBC’s election preparedness.
“IEBC should prepare as though there are no amendments to the Elections Act. Ours is merely to give meaning to what they are already doing,” Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen tweeted on Monday.
Already, a joint parliamentary select committee has invited memoranda from the public on the proposed changes with public hearings expected to commence Tuesday morning.
But even as the diplomats called for the deferment of the amendments until the October 26 presidential election is concluded, they also urged NASA to reconsider some of their demands urging the coalition to follow the laid out procedures in pushing for changes within the electoral commission.
“If IEBC personnel are to be removed, it should only be done by the appropriate authorities and be consistent with the law and relevant regulations,” the envoys said.