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Don’t interfere with IEBC mandate, diplomats warn

The United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU) and main Western missions accredited to Nairobi yesterday weighed in on the necessity for the October 26 fresh presidential election to take place as ordered by the Supreme Court. Led by US ambassador Robert Godec, 20 Western ambassadors and High Commissioners insisted the election should be held in accordance with the Constitution and the law.

They also told the main protagonists, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Jubilee and Nasa’s Raila Odinga to desist from doing anything that might interfere with the work of the electoral commission.

Separately, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres and the African Union Commission chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat said the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) should be supported to conduct the coming election in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling of September 1.

“This election must be held in accordance with the Constitution and the law, as interpreted by the courts. Attempts to change the law at the last moment are also not helpful,” said the statement read by Godec.

They added: “Attacks on IEBC staff must cease now. No one is obliged to stand for office or to vote if they do not wish to. But no-one should use violence or intimidation to disrupt the right of others to vote or to participate.

Doing so is profoundly undemocratic and leaders must tell their supporters to refrain from such actions.” In a thinly-veiled warning that they were monitoring would-be perpetrators of acts of violence, the envoys said: “In particular, we are following closely the actions of leaders and politicians.

Those who incite violence or undermine democracy should be held to account for their actions.” They also warned security forces to use utmost restraint in dealing with demonstrators.

The new developments unfolded as President Uhuru Kenyatta met IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati and discussed the Thursday election.

President Uhuru said he was ready for the election and had no demands to make on IEBC, other than the electoral body meeting its obligation of conducting the election as ordered by the Supreme Court. But Raila, speaking in rallies in Kisii insisted he will not participate in the election as he surged with his campaign dubbed ‘No reforms, No elections’.

On their part, in a joint statement released from the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, UN chief Guterres and the African Union Commission chair Mahamat, called on all stakeholders to cooperate with IEBC, as the constitutionally mandated body to conduct the election. Guterres and Mahamat urged all political actors, parties and their supporters to create conditions for a peaceful election and refrain from any acts of violence.

“It is critical that all concerned work towards the preservation of calm and peace in the country,” read the UN/AU statement. The UN and AU also said they were closely monitoring developments in Kenya in light of the forthcoming presidential election and they are committed to assist the country deliver a credible, transparent process in line with the Constitution.

The call by the diplomats came as Nasa leader Raila Odinga’s sister and Kisumu Senator Fred Outa were charged for alleged disruptions of poll preparations last week. Mobs in Kisumu attacked electoral commission officials as they made preparations to train staff for the repeat exercise.

It was also a day when acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i put the National Government Administrative Officers (NGAO) headed by Regional and County Commissioners under strict guidelines not to allow demonstrations that do not comply with the Public Order Act. While admitting that the electoral commission still needs to address demands raised by Nasa, Godec said the agency had made key changes to improve the electoral process.

“Following the Supreme Court decision, IEBC has made changes in personnel and procedures that address many of the concerns raised and that strengthen its technical ability,” read the joint statement. Godec said they have engaged in efforts to find a way that will encourage Nasa candidates Raila and Kalonzo Musyoka to rejoin the race.

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