The eleventh day of August 2017 was a tense one for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission bigshots. Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati was under pressure to declare Uhuru Kenyatta as president-elect. NASA was also on the man’s case warning that a declaration without processing all the results was null and avoid.
The tension was palpable. You could have heard a ballot drop. The president didn’t even have a seat as did his deputy William Ruto. Yet under these circumstances one commissioner had the presence of mind to crack a joke.
Introducing Ezra Chiloba, the photogenic IEBC Chief Executive Officer for whom ladies had gone gaga on social media, a commissioner reminded Kenyan women that the man was happily married. Suddenly smiles flashed on hitherto stony political faces. The tension dissipated; at least for the moment.
That commissioner was Roselyne Akombe who, from the US, announced her resignation from the electoral agency on Wednesday October 18, citing threats to her life, splits and dysfunction at the commission.
Akombe was born in 1976 at Nyamira County. She studied Education at the University of Nairobi before leaving the country for further studies at the United States.
She pursued a Masters and PhD in Global Affairs at the Rutgers University, after which she got employed to work as an Under-Secretary at the United Nations.
Akombe took a sabbatical leave from the United Nations during her term as IEBC commissioner.
In September, the commissioner was in the limelight after revealing that her life was in danger. But tracing her path since the appointment, it has been quite an experience for the commissioner.
In the run up to the August 8 General Election, the commissioner was the most visible face in the commission. She was always in the press briefing Kenyans on how prepared the commission was.
Some people even mistakenly thought she was Chair Wafula Chebukati’s deputy owing to her eloquence and firm grasp of matters elections. But in the wake of the damning allegations at the Commission, the vocal Dr Akombe took a low profile.
Akombe who also doubled as a senior advisor to the Under-Secretary General (Political Affairs) at the United Nations secretariat in New York, was in a spot together with six other commissioners for overseeing a shambolic election.
According to sources at the time, she was among three elections managers Jubilee Party wanted out before fresh polls on October 26th. Dr Akombe was accused by Jubilee point men of being a National Super Alliance (NASA) mole and secretly meeting its flagbearer Raila Odinga.
But in an interview with Sunday Standard, Akombe denied the allegations: “I have never met any politician over election issues after the Supreme Court ruling. Near to the truth is my meeting with Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju.” She termed as propaganda screen shots of WhatsApp chats alleged to be between her and Siaya Senator James Orengo.