Deep divisions emerge within Kenya’s electoral commission

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Deep divisions have emerged between the commissioners of the Kenya’s electoral commission and the commission’s secretariat over who is to blame for the irregularities that caused the nullification of last month’s presidential elections by the Supreme Court, and who should run fresh polls next month.

The fallout comes as a political standoff ensues between the opposition and the ruling party over who should run the polls and when they should be held.

A week ago, the Supreme Court of Kenya invalidated President Uhuru Kenyatta‘s win and ordered fresh polls in 60 days. The court said the commission did not conduct the polls according to the constitution.

Two days to the polls – the commissioners came together in a show of solidarity through prayer. This was just days after one of their own, the Information and Communications Technology Head Chris Msando had been tortured and murdered.

The Supreme Court ruling nullifying the results of the presidential polls however marked the beginning of fallout within the commission.

Divisions within the commission became clear on Wednesday when Chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Wafula Chebukati named a team of six people to handle the fresh presidential elections. The list excluded Ezra Chiloba, the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission and one of the main faces of the 2017 general elections.

The appointments were immediately followed by a statement by some of the commissioners distancing themselves from the decision to form a new team indicating that Chebukati acted unilaterally.

Before the dust could settle an internal memo from Chairperson Chebukati to Chief Executive Officer Chiloba surfaced online. In the three-page memo, Chebukati seeks answers on some of the irregularities that occurred in the polls. Again five commissioners disowned the letter saying it was never discussed in the commission.

The divisions come less than 40 days to the repeat polls date – raising fears on whether the team is well prepared and if it can be trusted to hold a transparent process.

– By Sarah Kimani