Kenya election chief casts doubt on 'free, fair' poll

 18 Oct 2017 - 15:06

Kenya election chief casts doubt on 'free, fair' poll
Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati addresses a news conference at the Bomas of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya


Nairobi: Kenya's election chief cast doubt Wednesday on his organisation's ability to hold a "free, fair and credible" vote next week, pointing to internal divisions and interference by both major parties.

Election commission chairman Wafula Chebukati pulled no punches in a statement issued after the resignation of one of his commissioners, Roselyn Akombe, who fled to New York and warned the October 26 poll could not be credible.

"I am giving a yellow card to all the political leaders in the country. As the referee I want to issue a stern warning to the players of this game on all sides that they should stop all attempts to interfere with the process," said election commission chairman Wafula Chebukati.

Chebukati said that operationally, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was ready to hold the election, but there were serious doubts about the credibility of the vote.

The election is being held after the Supreme Court annulled the results of an August 8 vote due to "irregularities" and mismanagement by poll officials.

"I've made several attempts to make critical changes but all my motions have been defeated by a majority of the commissioners," he told journalists.

"Under such conditions, it's difficult to guarantee a free, fair and credible election."

He said that without changes to key secretariat staff -- the permanent members of the IEBC -- a "free, fair and credible election will surely be compromised."

He called on these members to "step aside to allow this team to function without interference."

The press conference came just hours after it had emerged Akombe had fled the country in fear for her life, and announced her resignation.