Kenyan election official quits, says board not ready for credible poll
NAIROBI (Reuters) – A senior Kenyan election official resigned from her job a week before a repeat presidential election, saying the election board was under siege and could not hold a credible election.
The re-run was ordered by the Supreme Court on Sept. 1 after it nullified the Aug. 8 re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta, following a petition by opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Odinga withdrew from the poll last week, saying the election board had not carried out reforms demanded by the opposition, thrusting the country, a key Western ally and also the richest economy in the region, into deeper political uncertainty.
The election board has said the poll will go ahead with seven candidates on the ballot, including Odinga.
Roselyn Akombe, an election board commissioner, or member of its top panel, cited lack of cohesion among its eight members and the secretariat for her decision to leave.
“The commission has become a party to the current crisis. The commission is under siege,” she said in a statement issued from New York and dated Tuesday.
The election, as planned, fell short of the test of credibility, she added.
“We need the commission to be courageous and speak out that this election as planned cannot meet the basic expectations of a credible election.”
Kenyan law requires the repeat election to be held within 60 days of nullification of the original vote. The constitution is silent on what happens if that timeline is not met, sparking fears of a constitutional crisis if next week’s poll does not go ahead.
Odinga has called daily demonstrations to protest against the election body. At least three people have been killed in the ensuing melee when the protests turned violent.
Kenyatta has accused Odinga of pulling out of the race after sensing defeat and trying to cause chaos to force a negotiated settlement.
More than 1,200 people were killed in violence after a disputed presidential election in Dec. 2007.
(Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)