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Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga set to face off on October 17 presidential vote

By Geoffrey Mosoku | Published Tue, September 5th 2017 at 00:00, Updated September 5th 2017 at 10:27 GMT +3
Uhuru Kenyatta's gesture as NASA leader Raila Odinga speaks during the first Kenyan President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta's 38th Anniversary memorial service at Holy family Basilica Nairobi on 22nd August, 2016. PHOTO JOHN MUCHUCHA.JPG

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his arch political rival Raila Odinga will face off in a fresh presidential election on October 17.

This means Uhuru, the Jubilee Party candidate, and Raila, the National Super Alliance (NASA) flag bearer, have just 41 days to woo 19.6 million registered voters.

However, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has determined that only Raila, the presidential results petitioner, and Uhuru, the third respondent in the Supreme Court case, shall appear on the ballot.

Kenyans will be going back to vote following last week's nullification of Uhuru's re-election by the Supreme Court.

The IEBC yesterday held a plenary meeting in which it was resolved that only the names of Uhuru and Raila will appear on the ballot.

The commission based its decision on the 2013 Supreme Court ruling that affirmed that a fresh election will have only the parties that are either petitioners or respondents in the case.

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This means six of the presidential candidates that vied in the nullified polls will not get another opportunity to compete for the top seat. They include Cyrus Jirongo of the United Democratic Party, Ekuru Aukot of Thirdway Alliance, Abduba Dida of the Alliance for Real Change and independent candidates Joseph Nyagah, Michael Wainaina and Japheth Kavinga.

The announcement came soon after IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati chaired a tense meeting that was also attended by the commission's directors.

The meeting that took place at Ole Sereni Hotel off Mombasa Road is said to have discussed re-organisation of the secretariat in light of the court decision that faulted IEBC for violating the law in conducting the August 8 polls.

The meeting agreed to reconstitute the commission's committee and sub-committee, and is also contemplating firing some of its key staff.

The commissioners will meet again this morning to decide if they will proceed with an internal clean up or await the court's final verdict.

Among the officials targeted are CEO Ezra Chiloba, his deputy Betty Nyabuto-Sungura, Praxedes Tororey (director, Legal), Immaculate Kassait (director, Elections) and James Muhati (director, ICT).

Compulsory leave

A source conversant with the matter intimated that the top officials may be sent on compulsory leave and their juniors appointed in an acting capacity.

Should the commission resolve to suspend Mr Chiloba, the agency has identified one of his deputies, Marjan Hussein Marjan, to act in his place.

Ms Nyabuto may survive the purge because her term is coming to an end soon. She has about two months left on her contract, which was extended for three months in August.

"The deputy CEO will probably be left to complete her term but with a minimum role in the elections since firing her would be akin to setting a house on fire that is due for demolition," the source added.

During the meeting at Ole Sereni, each director made a presentation on their departments, which included programmes of activities and budgetary requirements.

The commission will meet again today to deliberate over the budgetary requirements for a fresh election and other issues such as procurement of ballot papers and boxes. They will also make a decision on whether to return to Dubai-based Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing LLC or pick a new firm to print about 20 million ballot papers.

On Sunday, NASA warned IEBC not to contemplate going back to Dubai in light of its court case that established that some of the strategic materials such as Form 34A lacked certain security features.

"We are looking at options to ensure an efficient and credible election," Chiloba said when asked about the selection of a printer.

Ballot papers

"We are now busy looking at the procedures, operations, funding, ballot boxes, and strategic and non-strategic materials to ensure that everything is ready."

IEBC said on Monday it was imperative for the detailed Supreme Court judgement to be released to allow the commission to identify areas that require improvement in the management of a fresh election.

"The commission calls for patience and understanding among all stakeholders as we work together to deliver free, fair, credible and peaceful elections," said the commission.