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Presidential election to proceed as planned – Chebukati

The electoral commission on Wednesday ruled that tomorrow’s fresh presidential election will go on as scheduled, saying its concerns on security had been addressed, and the team was satisfied with its technical preparedness.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairperson Wafula Chebukati said that his agency had been assured of adequate security preparations by the relevant agencies.

“Based on the assurances given to this commission by the relevant authorities and the security agencies, based on the progress that has been made in the commission, the elections as scheduled will go on tomorrow as scheduled,” Mr Chebukati told journalists at the Bomas of Kenya, which has been gazetted as the poll’s National Tallying Centre.

INTENSE DIVISIONS

Coming at a week of reports of intense divisions at the IEBC, Mr Chebukati was in the press conference accompanied by all the five commissioners – Vice chairperson Connie Nkatha Bucha, and commissioners Prof Abdi Guliye, Dr Paul Kurgat, Margaret Mwachanya, and Boya Molu.

The vocal Dr Roselyne Akombe last week fled the country to New York where she resigned, arguing that as it stands, the commission could not guarantee a credible poll tomorrow.

While he said most of the election materials had been sent to the constituencies, Mr Chebukati said that the commission will not hesitate to postpone the election in certain areas if it felt that the security of its staff, or the holding of the polls itself, was in danger.

“In cases where there will be problems of voting, and the delivery of materials, the polling officer will have a right to inform us and the election can be postponed to another date . . . The polling officer can call off the election,” said Mr Chebukati.

There are threats to the holding of the fresh poll in certain areas allied to the Raila Odinga-led National Super Alliance (Nasa).

POLICE BRUTALITY

Mr Chebukati said he had been assured by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority that cases of police brutality against demonstrators angry with the IEBC will be dealt with.

Further, Mr Chebukati said Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet had also given a personal assurance to ensure “peaceful and lawful expression of human rights will never be treated as a crime in this country: but that the sacrosanct security of life and property is also lawfully upheld.”

Mr Chebukati said that a judgment by High Court judge George Odunga, which declared the appointment of returning officers unlawful because the IEBC did not send the list to the political parties, will not affect the fresh poll as the judge did not quash their appointment.

Last Wednesday, Mr Chebukati had said that he could not assure the country of a free and fair poll if, among other things, political interference, and a divided commission.

“Fellow Kenyans, excessive use of force by the police is not illusion,” he said in the Bomas briefing.

“It is a dark reality that some people have unfortunately had to experience in recent times. when the very people we are expected to run to in times of trouble are the ones attacking us, then as a country, we are at our lowest.”