At least 30 small political parties Tuesday afternoon stormed the electoral agency offices and forced a meeting with its commissioners, demanding a March 27 deadline for parties to submit membership list to be annulled.
Under the Political Parties Liaison Committee, the representatives accused the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of unilaterally changing critical election timelines that they said were hurting their operations.
At the IEBC offices at Anniversary Towers, the liaison committee said that the commission should tell them what the March 27 deadline means.
“Even with a stay order, the IEBC went ahead to gazette a date that is different from the April 8 date we know. This commission belongs to jail, it is in contempt of court,” said the committee’s chair Philip Abonyo of Federal Party of Kenya.
The team had issued a statement at the Clarion Hotel, before deciding to go to the IEBC offices after a representative who had promised to address them failed to show up.
At the IEBC, the team stormed the chairman’s boardroom and took seats, strategising how they will “attack’ the IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati who the commission had said will address them.
But after 25 minutes, IEBC vice chair Consolata Nkatha showed up with staff she said were from the legal team, and apologised that her office was not aware of the meeting.
“We are sorry. We did not know this meeting was there. We have no doubt in our mind that you are an important stakeholder in the elections,” Ms Nkatha told the team in the stormy meeting that the Daily Nation sat in.
But it was in a revelation by the IEBC legal team that it was expecting a court ruling to alter its deadline that got the representatives worked up.
“You are forcing us to stick to a deadline that you are hoping a court will rule in your favour. Let me tell you this: We are the political parties and are the only stakeholder that will give you that list. Remove that (March 27) deadline here now, and then we will start talking. What is the pressure?” asked Benedict Wachira of the Social Democratic Party.
Mr Alfayo Agufana said that it was unfair for the IEBC to impose timelines it had not consulted with stakeholders.
But Ms Nkatha, who walked out to ‘consult” after 30 minutes of back-and-forth, said that the commission was in itself under a lot of pressure.
“We are under strict, almost impossible timelines. Please understand we are human beings too. We need to work together. That is why I am asking you: Do you really want elections?” said an overwhelmed Ms Nkatha, to which they unanimously responded: “Yes, but under the law.”
The meeting ended with a promise from the IEBC to meet them on Friday, and to communicate the outcome of the appeal to allow it advance its March 27 deadline.
At the same time, the IEBC will Wednesday jointly with the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission issue guidelines on who among them has the authority to stop politicians who have corruption cases from running for office.
“We have presented the regulations to guide nominations and take us to the elections to Parliament, which we hope will be published before the nominations. Anyone who will be caught in this will be free to come to the commission,” said Commissioner Roselyn Akombe.