Kenyan official flees to US before poll

 Dr. Akombe

Dr. Akombe

A senior member of Kenya’s electoral commission (IEBC) has fled to the US amid death threats ahead of next week’s presidential election re-run.

Roselyn Akombe said the IEBC was under political “siege”, unable to reach consensus or take any decisions.

The IEBC said it regretted her decision to quit, while its chairman conceded that he could not guarantee that the poll would be credible.

Last week, opposition leader Raila Odinga pulled out of the vote.

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

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said he regretted Ms Akombe’s decision to quit and warned Kenya’s political leaders not to “interfere with the process”.

 

Speaking to BBC Newsday interview from New York, Ms Akombe recalled the murder of the election commission’s IT head, Chris Msando, before the August poll.

“You’ll be suicidal to think that nothing will happen to you,” she said.

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

 

In a statement, Ms Akombe said she had agonised over the decision to leave the IEBC because “the commission in its current state can surely not guarantee a credible election”.

“There is a very high likelihood that the mistakes that some of the presiding officers made during the last election will be repeated,” she told the BBC.

She said IEBC members had been voting along partisan lines, without discussing different issues on merit.

Commissioners and other IEBC personnel were facing intimidation by political actors and protesters, Ms Akombe said.

She added that the death threats were anonymous threats, and she had been put under pressure to resign.

She said she did not “feel safe enough to be able to go home” in the foreseeable future.

It is a big blow for the beleaguered commission, whose credibility had already taken a big hit after the Supreme Court annulled the August 8 election.

Ms Akombe’s revelation that the commission is beset by internal wrangles and is pliable to partisan interests dispels any illusion that it is an independent body.

She also questioned the commission’s leadership, saying Mr Chebukati was ineffectual.

Mr Chebukati has given credence to this view. -BBC

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