NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 19 – National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga has reaffirmed his intention to boycott next week’s presidential election if his concerns on the conduct of the repeat poll are not conclusively addressed.
Speaking to the press after meeting the Chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Wafula Chebukati, Odinga said the recent resignation of Commissioner Roselyn Akombe was a confirmation of the alliance’s fears that the poll agency was not ready to conduct credible elections.
He further cited Chebukati’s address to the nation on Wednesday which Odinga said painted a picture of a commission ill-prepared to manage the October 26 poll.
“The revelations which have come from Chebukati and madam Akombe have basically confirmed our reasons for pulling out of this race. It is now clear that a conducive environment does not exist for a free and fair electoral process,” Odinga remarked.
He however said that he was willing to engage in talks geared towards addressing NASA concerns before the fresh election is held.
“We have said that if proper consultations are done and reforms are carried out and our fears are addressed then we will reconsider our withdrawal,” the NASA chief said flanked by his campaign secretariat Chairperson Musalia Mudavadi.
“You saw what the Jubilee people said yesterday, in those circumstances do you think it would be proper for me to meet with Kenyatta? It’s made to appear as if I’m the one who is begging for a meeting because I want nusu mkate. I don’t know how many times I need to tell them I don’t need any of those poisoned mkates from Jubilee… I don’t need anything from the so called William Ruto,” Odinga added.
Following the meeting that lasted close to an hour, Chebukati tweeted that he had discussed matters pertaining the forthcoming election adding that he looked forward to meeting President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Chebukati who had temporarily suspended a meeting with all presidential candidates slated for Thursday afternoon later tweeted that the said meeting would follow after he holds a separate meeting with President Kenyatta.
While issuing a statement on election preparedness Wednesday, Chebukati insisted that he will not resign from the commission saying that a project team he had tasked with preparing for the fresh election was working to ensure a repeat poll is conducted on Thursday next week.
He issued a stern warning to politicians to stop interfering with the work which he said had affected deliberations among commissioners; a majority of whom he said were pursuing partisan interests.
“As a lawyer, I cannot continue to be pushed by majority commissioners to accept legal opinions that serve partisan interests and are not grounded in the constitution or the law. In the least, this is intellectual dishonesty for which my professional training demands that I abhor,” Chebukati warned.
He also called for secretariat officials adversely mention in bungling the August presidential election annulled by the Supreme Court to step aside.
“I am convinced that without critical changes in key secretariat staff we may not have a free, fair and credible election. I ask the staff who have been adversely mentioned to step aside and allow the project team to function without interference,” he told a press conference at the Bomas of Kenya.
Chebukati noted with concern failed attempts to persuade a majority of the Commissioners to adopt critical changes before next week’s repeat presidential election, attempts he said were defeated by the majority.
“Under such conditions, it is difficult to guarantee free fair and credible elections,” Chebukati warned.
The IEBC Chairperson is banking on the support of Deputy Commission CEO Hussein Marjan who heads a seven-member project team he appointed to manage the fresh election next week.
Other members of the project team are Alert Gogo (Election Technology Coordinator), Sydney Namulungu (National Tallying Centre), David Towett (Head of Operations), Tabitha Mutemi (Communication and Outreach), Salome Oyugi (Legal and Compliance) and Agatha Wahome (Finance, Procurement, and Administration).
Already, the Dubai-based Al Ghurair printing firm is finalising printing of ballot papers with the first consignment for eight far-flung counties expected in the country Saturday.