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IEBC bosses bury hatchet, promise Kenyans credible repeat presidential election

By Geoffrey Mosoku | Published Tue, September 12th 2017 at 00:00, Updated September 11th 2017 at 22:24 GMT +3
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati (right) with CEO Ezra Chiloba (left) flanked by commissioners addressing the press at Great Rift Valley Lodge in Naivasha ,Nakuru County on September 11, 2017 after their retreat. Photo:Kipsang Joseph/Standard

Electoral commissioners have resolved to work together to to deliver the October 17 repeat polls.

The commissioners also backed a project team appointed by the chairman to oversee the October 17 elections.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chief Executive Ezra Chiloba was tasked with  assessing the challenges encountered in the August 8 presidential election that was nullified by the Supreme Court. It was, however, unclear what his role would be in preparation of the fresh election.

“The CEO has been tasked to assess the implementation challenges that were experienced during the just -concluded General Election and propose a project implementation framework that is aligned with the existing organisational structure,” said a statement by IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati at the close of the retreat in Naivasha yesterday.

The IEBC chairman, CEO, and commissioners who went into the meeting divided announced that they had agreed to work as a team.

“It was very evident that this retreat was necessary. It helped to clarify issues of concern and we are now better off than when we came here,” said the chairman.

Among the issues discussed was a memo he is reported to have sent to Mr Chiloba demanding answers to several key questions regarding the August 8 polls.

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“The CEO has responded to the issues raised in the memo and the commissioners will be meeting in the course of the week to review the responses before making a decision on the way forward,” said Chebukati.

“We want to assure the country that despite the challenges we have experienced in the recent past, the commission is more than committed to ensure that the country has a successful election come October 17,” he added.

Reports indicate that it took a cleric, a motivational speaker, and a management consultant to break the ice and open the floor for talks between the country’s electoral commission chiefs.

Negotiating table

Catholic Bishop Alfred Rotich, motivation speaker Wale Akinyemi, and Dr Peter Kiriri were at hand to apply their respective skills to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table.

The three had been invited to ‘talk’ to the IEBC officials who had retreated to Naivasha in a bid to foster unity amid a major fallout that had threatened the preparations for the October 17 repeat polls.

Details of the closed-door meeting were scanty yesterday. Only seven commissioners, led by chairman Wafula Chebukati and CEO Ezra Chiloba, attended.

Sources indicated that the three speakers took more than six hours with the poll agency bosses, advising and cautioning them on the impact of their internal wars and what they portend for the country.

The speakers listened attentively as each of the commissioners ‘opened their hearts’ and spoke freely on what they thought had gone wrong in the August 8 polls.

The speakers would interject and guide them on how to handle the situation.

Rev Rotich is said to have implored the commissioners to be wary of their public conduct, warning that should one falter, the entire IEBC will go down and thus lead to a major political crisis in the country.

Dr Akinyemi took the commission through experiences from other jurisdictions and how crises had been solved.

Recociliation talks

He repeatedly quoted from some of his motivational books while Dr Kiriri made a presentation on how to handle disputes in places of work.

The reconciliation talks took the better part of the day, with talks on other topics beginning later in the day.

Rev Rotich left at about 4pm, but did not address the media, only saying the commission would talk to journalists later.

The decision to invite the three was arrived at during a plenary meeting last Friday that mooted the one-day retreat at Great Rift Valley Lodge in Naivasha to deliberate on how to forge unity, the ICT issue, and an election management team appointed by Mr Chebukati.

The meeting comes in the wake of protracted wars at IEBC following the nullification of the presidential election.

Last week, Chebukati did a terse memo to Chiloba demanding answers in what may point to what transpired during the August 8 polls.

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