The electoral commission has come under intense pressure from top politicians and religious leaders to put its house in order and deliver a credible repeat presidential election on October 17.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy Mr William Ruto, Nasa leader Raila Odinga and church leaders on Friday urged the commissioners to stop the “sideshows” and focus on the fresh polls.
This came as the commission released a timetable showing how it intends to handle election as ordered by the Supreme Court last week.
At campaign rallies in Kericho, Gilgil and Naivasha in Nakuru County, the Jubilee leaders said Kenyans were increasingly getting fatigued by the complaints by the Opposition camp that have raised the political temperatures and affected the country’s economy.
“Prepare yourselves for the people of Kenya to vote,” President Kenyatta said at a rally in Kapkatet. “We don’t want sideshows.”
He told the commission that it should not dilly-dally.
And in Nairobi, Mr Odinga also voiced his concerns on the divisions within the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, saying this was an indication that the commissioners were not ready to meet teams from both Jubilee and Nasa to chart the way forward on the election.
“If the commissioners themselves are not able to agree among themselves, are they really ready to meet us?” Mr Odinga asked during a press conference at the Okoa Kenya offices in Lavington.
He however said the Opposition is ready to meet IEBC and consult on the preparation for fresh election.
Nasa co-principal Musalia Mudavadi, who spoke at the same event, described the divisions within IEBC as an indication that it cannot carry out its mandate.
In a letter to the commission, signed by Mr Mudavadi, Nasa expressed concern that the conflict within the commission is likely to affect the planning of the October 17 election.
Since the ruling of the Supreme Court that nullified President Kenyatta’s win in the August 8 polls, there has been lack of harmony between the chairman and the chief executive.
The row between the two have also split the commissioners.
The National Council of Churches of Kenya also waded into the wrangles that have rocked IEBC, with the Secretary General, Rev Canon Peter Karanja, asking the commission’s bosses to resolve their differences “as a matter of urgency”.
“We challenge the commissioners and the secretariat to rise above ethnic, political, social and personal interests and instead organise the fresh election,” he said.
“This Executive appreciates that the IEBC must assert its independence and the chairman has shown a commitment to streamline the systems and personnel in readiness for fresh presidential election,” Reverend Canon Karanja said.
He urged IEBC to consider adopting short contracts for supervisory staff.
These should sourced from service and commercial outfits of large logistical capacities to help with the election.
He and other clerics also asked the IEBC to follow the Supreme Court judgement to avoid the pitfalls that led to the nullification of the election.
They also called on politicians from both political formations to allow the commission to perform its duties, and if unhappy to gather evidence during the process of election and launch a petition in case they will be aggrieved by the results.
Rev Canon Karanja said the church is concerned that both Nasa and the Jubilee Party have made it their business to engage the IEBC in sideshows that may undermine the commission’s capacity to deliver credible election.
He said the ongoing debate on the election date is uncalled for and urged all parties involved to cease disputes around the date.
The NCCK further condemned incitement by politicians during their campaigns.
“We urge the two presidential candidates to rein in their political supporters and not allow hate speech among their ranks,” he said.
The council has further asked the Supreme Court judges to release their detailed judgment to avoid keeping the electoral commission and Kenyans in suspense.
Meanwhile, Garissa Township MP Aden Duale also challenged the electoral commissioners to avoid sideshows.
Mr Duale spoke as Wiper MPs challenged Mr Chiloba to respond to Mr Chebukati’s memo on the flawed presidential election.
“As a party, we are not interested in the war between the chair, CEO and the secretariat,” Mr Duale said.
He spoke at a press conference attended by Jubilee MPs at Parliament Buildings.
Wiper MPs also addressed the wrangles in IEBC, saying the infighting between Mr Chebukati and Mr Chiloba shows how unprepared the agency is.
Kathiani MP Robert Mbui, who spoke on behalf of the legislators, said:
“The CEO must answer to those queries and ensure for the next election that things are put in place,” Mr Mbui said.
Reported by Anita Chepkoech, Samuel Owino, Faith Nyamai, Joseph Openda, Macharia Mwangi and Kennedy Kimanthi
IEBC commissioners reject leaked circular blaming Chiloba for flaws in August 8 poll.