Roselyn Akombe, an IEBC commissioner, says it would be "suicidal" for her to think she would be safe in Kenya / Photo: KDN

Kenya: Election commissioner resigns, flees ahead of presidential poll

A senior official of Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has resigned from her job a week before a repeat presidential election, saying the election body was under siege and could not hold a credible election.

“The commission in its current state can surely not guarantee a credible election on 26 October 2017,” Roselyn Akombe, an IEBC commissioner, said in a statement issued from New York and dated Tuesday, 17 October.

Now in the United States, she cited lack of cohesion among its eight members and the secretariat for her decision to leave. “The commission has become a party to the current crisis. The commission is under siege,” Ms Akombe said.

The election, as planned, fell short of the test of credibility, she added.

“We need the commission to be courageous and speak out that this election as planned cannot meet the basic expectations of a credible election.”

In an interview with the BBC, Akombe said she had feared for her safety while in Kenya after receiving numerous threats. She said the election commission’s IT head, Chris Msando, was “brutally murdered” before the August poll, and “you’ll be suicidal to think that nothing will happen to you”.

Meanwhile, opposition protests called by Raila Odinga continue and at least two people were shot dead last week when around 20 youths attempted to take over a police station during an otherwise peaceful rally in the town of Bondo in the southwest county of Siaya. Kenya is headed for a showdown as the rerun date nears / Photo: ANW


“I have never felt the kind of fear that I felt in my own country,” she told the BBC.

Last week, opposition leader Raila Odinga pulled out of the 26 October presidential re-run.

Odinga, who leads the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA), said last week: “We have come to the conclusion that there is no intention on the part of the IEBC to undertake any changes to its operations and personnel”. And he has called daily demonstrations to protest against the IEBC. At least three people have been killed in the ensuing melee when the protests turned violent.

Kenyatta has accused Odinga of pulling out of the race after sensing defeat and trying to cause chaos to force a negotiated settlement.

The Supreme Court annulled the result of the original 8 August poll, which saw current President Uhuru Kenyatta declared winner, after finding irregularities and illegalities.

Kenyan law requires the repeat election to be held within 60 days of nullification of the original vote. The constitution is silent on what happens if that timeline is not met, sparking fears of a constitutional crisis if next week’s poll does not go ahead.

Adira Kallo

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