IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati has asked senior staff adversely mentioned with regard to the bungling of the August 8 presidential election to step aside to allow the project team he assembled to over see the fresh election work without interference.
Chebukati, who was addressing journalists at Bomas of Kenya hours after commissioner Roselyn Akombe resigned citing political interference with the agency’s operations, said he will not accept to go down as the national returning officer who plunged the country into a crisis more than he found it in.
He noted that his reputation has already been soiled by the fact that he was the first IEBC chairman in Africa to preside over an election that was later annulled.
He asked the main political party leaders to engage in dialogue and put Kenya first so as to salvage the situation. He said he was ready to lead the dialogue involving the key players in the electoral contest and would organise a meeting to that effect.
The removal of top officials NASA claims helped rig the presidential election results is one of the irreducible minimums that its presidential candidate Raila Odinga had put before he could agree to take part in the rerun.
They include CEO Ezra Chiloba, his deputy Betty Nyabuto, Immaculate Kassait, James Muhati, Praxedes Tororey (who has since retired), Moses Kipkogei, commissioner Abdi Guliye, Molu Boya and Marjan Marjan.
Chebukati yesterday said all his motions to implement changes at the commission in conformity with the Supreme Court ruling but they have been defeated by the majority. He added the situation has become worse after the August 8 election.
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According to Chebukati, though operationally the commission is fully prepared for the fresh election, legally it is not, quoting Chief Justice David Maraga’s take that election is a process not a one-day event.
However, he said he would not resign though it is the easier option, noting he was putting the country first. But he said with rising internal opposition, it is not possible to conduct a credible election.
He said he was giving a yellow card to political leaders in the country, adding he would not tolerate intimidation of his staff anymore.
“I will not allow anyone to destroy this country as long as I am the referee,” he declared.
On Tuesday, Deputy President William Ruto said Jubilee has no problem if NASA agrees with IEBC on which members of staff should be replaced.
Raila last week announced he was withdrawing his candidature, accusing the electoral agency of stonewalling talks on the way forward.
IEBC has previously insisted that no official should be fired since they were all exonerated by the Supreme Court from personal liability over the illegalities and irregularities that saw President Uhuru Kenyatta’s win in the August 8 election annulled.
Chebukati regretted Akombe’s resignation, saying she was one of the finest brains at Anniversary Towers.
In her resignation letter, Akombe cited her personal safety and that of staff in areas such as Nyanza and Western who have faced attacks from Opposition supporters as they undergo pre-election training.