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Vocal IEBC Commissioner Akombe resigns a week to polls


On her last trip to the US, Akombe had a run-in with immigration officials at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 18 – A Commissioner at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Roselyn Akombe has resigned, saying the IEBC cannot conduct a credible election next week as currently constituted.

Akombe left the country to Dubai to monitor the printing of ballot papers but diverted to New York from where she sent the resignation letter, saying she is not prepared to come back to Kenya.

“It has become increasingly difficult to continue attending plenary meetings where Commissioners come ready to vote along partisan lines and not to discuss the merit of issues before them. It has become increasingly difficult to appear on television to defend positions I disagree with in the name of collective responsibility,” she said in her resignation letter.

She stated that the current political climate in the country is not conducive for an election to take place.

“The current political conditions did not exist on the 1st of September when the order was issued. It would therefore have been logical for the Commission to be frank with the Kenyan people and clearly state the challenges we face in organizing a free, fair, and credible election.”

She was interviewed on the BBC on Wednesday morning where she sought to explain the reasons behind her resignation from the electoral commission, a week to the fresh presidential election.

“I cannot live with an election that is never going to be credible. We have to get to a point where we are able to speak the truth whether that truth hurts Jubilee or NASA, that is the truth,” she told the radio station.

Akombe has been one of the most vocal Commissioner at the electoral commission and her role was seen as significant, but she says it became increasingly difficult to continue discharging her duties.

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And when she was asked whether she sees herself coming back to Kenya she said, “No, I don’t feel safe enough to be able to go back home. I haven’t been feeling safe being there.”

She said her continued stay at the electoral commission would have dented her credibility as a person.

“My personality requires that I speak the truth. Would it be a credible election? absolutely not, there is a very high likelihood that the mistakes that some of the Presiding Officers made during the last election will be repeated. If you are dealing with an election in which at least half of the country is not going to be participating in, could you consider that, that is the environment for having credible elections? definitely not,” she stated.

She cited the killing of Chris Msando, the electoral commission’s IT expert killed shortly before the August election, and other attacks on staff, saying staff at IEBC do not feel safe.

“It’s unacceptable to have any of our staff across the country being attacked by NASA supporters. That is absolutely unacceptable,” she said, “There was a period of time in which we could be able to meaningful concessions that would have allowed NASA and Jubilee to play on a level ground in these elections but that time is over.”

When asked about the ability of Chairman Wafula Chebukati to steer the poll’s body, Akombe described him as a very well-meaning person. “He has the temperament to be able to be a leader, but he is a leader who is under siege. For me, it is about the support base that he just does not have in the Commission. If he was much more firm, I think probably, we could have gone much further, but there are aspects of his character that are helpful in a situation like this but there are times when we just need firmness to move on.”

Akombe’s exit now leaves the Commission with six Commissioners, including the Chairman.

There has been no statement from IEBC about the surprise resignation.

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