, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 17 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has assured the nation that it is ready to conduct a credible fresh presidential election next week.
The assurance was given during a stakeholders meeting during which members of the Commission’s Project Team appointed to oversee the conduct of the election briefed participants of key electoral processes.
Two of the seven-member Project Team appointed by IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati on October 6 – Albert Gogo (In charge Election Technology) and Salome Oyugi (Legal and Compliance) – reaffirmed the Commission’s position on changes undertaken to protect the integrity of the election, changes which were gazetted Thursday last week.
The assurance, however, came even as Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki expressed concern over the absence of IEBC Commissioners and senior IEBC Secretariat members at the meeting.
“When junior officers are sent to come and facilitate a forum which we as governors were invited there are a lot of questions left unanswered,” Governor Njuki said.
“The people who are here are important Kenyans but there’s that feeling that the Commissioners are not taking this forum very seriously,” he further stated.
West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo who was also present at the meeting expressed a contrary view saying he found no fault in the absence of the IEBC Commissioners.
According to Governor Lonyangapuo, what mattered was the Commission’s preparedness for the poll.
“I have seen the changes IEBC has made and we have eight days to go to October 26. We must all realise that life must move on and therefore opinions at this stage will not matter,” he said while underscoring the importance of holding the fresh election within constitutional timelines.
Mkenya Daima under the auspices of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) on its part exuded confidence in the Commission’s readiness for the poll noting that most gray areas have been addressed.
“We’re very clear. It is a manual election counted at the polling stations and we’ve had assurances that all the media will be allowed to monitor the whole process. That makes it a very transparent process,” Mkenya Daima Chairperson Vimal Shah said.
IEBC officials at the meeting, however, declined to comment on the progress of procurement of strategic election materials including printing of ballot papers which Commissioner Roselyn Akombe had indicated would commence this week.
During the Friday meeting, Akombe also told a group of election observers that the Commission had dropped over 200 election officials who may have played a direct role in ruining the credibility of the August 8 presidential election annulled by the Supreme Court on September 1.
“We have vetted those who had mistakes and they will not be included in this election,” she said.
Akombe also encouraged observers to keep an eye on election officials during the repeat election to ensure strict compliance with election regulations reaffirming that “the polling station remains the locus of an election”.
The Commission has also gazetted Returning Officers for the 290 Constituency Tallying Centres and their deputies.
The publication of the Returning Officers on Thursday last week paved way for training of Presiding Officers and clerks who will manage 40,883 polling stations across the country.
IEBC Commissioners have been traversing the country in a bid to monitor the training sessions.