Push to postpone polls gains momentum a day to repeat elections

Samuel Ndalusia

October 24th, 2017

Even as the last batch of the ballot papers to be used in the impending repeat presidential election on Thursday October 26 arrived in the country on Tuesday evening at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), more voices emanated from all over the world calling for the postponement of the repeat polls. To begin with, the international firm contracted by IEBC to supply the technological materials for the repeat election, OT-Morpho asked for the election to be moved to October 31 to ensure the rollout of the full RTS system. Commonwealth has unexpectedly pulled out its observers from the Thursday repeat poll, citing security fears, tension in Kenya and withdrawal of the NASA presidential candidate, Raila Odinga from the race.

While touring Ukambani on Tuesday October 24, the NASA leader, Raila Odinga, continued to urge the residents to heed the calls by their senior leadership; his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka and Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu to boycott the repeat presidential election slated for Thursday this week. He stated that two thirds of Kenyans were against the October 26 poll and added that the Jubilee leadership were imposing themselves on Kenyans.

“We have said there will be no election on Thursday because our proposals on the changes we wanted effected on IEBC have been ignored and therefore participating would amount to a coronation for Uhuru Kenyatta’s second term,” said Raila.

The Foreign envoys in the country, led by the US Ambassador Robert Godec on Monday October 23 also expressed concerns over the political climate in Kenya stating that the conditions weren’t favourable for holding a credible repeat poll. They’ve now added their voice in advocating for an extension of the polls date from October 26.

“Only Kenyan institutions can decide whether to postpone it or not. The High court in 2012 delayed elections by 6 months which helped ensure peaceful vote. The Supreme Court should favourably consider such an extension given the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairman’s own acknowledgement that the polling commission cannot guarantee a credible vote within the allotted time,” read part of the statement by the foreign envoys in the country.

A world leading publication, an American business magazine Bloomberg has also added its voice in calling for the postponement of the repeat elections scheduled for Thursday in its editorial titled Kenya’s No-win Election, asking the IEBC to seek a Supreme Court order for postponement of 30 to 45 days so that it can strengthen its systems and staff, and to give the two major parties adequate time for peaceful campaigns.

“If Kenya goes ahead with its presidential vote this week, it will be making a historic mistake – one that threatens unrest and undermines a landmark court decision affirming the importance of transparent, free and fair elections,” states Bloomberg’s editorial.

Meanwhile, a section of Kenyans have realized that no one is taking note of the loud calls to postpone the repeat Thursday elections and have decided to take the matter a notch higher. The three voters (Khelef Khalia, Samwel Monochi and Gacheke Gachihi) through their lawyer Harun Ndubi have now filed a petition at the Supreme Court of Kenya seeking to have the IEBC stopped from conducting the repeat presidential election on Thursday. They have named the IEBC and its chairman, Wafula Chebukati as the respondents in the petition arguing that the electoral commission is not adequately prepared to carry out the scheduled repeat elections and that the threats on some IEBC officials in the country could prejudice the election outcome.

The case is due to be heard on Wednesday October 25 at 10am despite a gazette notice published by the acting Interior CS Fred Matiangi declaring October 25 a public holiday. Chief Justice Maraga issued a directive that the case to halt the Thursday presidential election be heard on Wednesday. “The matter is to be heard at 10 am tomorrow notwithstanding that it may be a public holiday,” stated the directive by the Chief Justice of Kenya, David Maraga.



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