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January 19, 2018

IEBC can't please everyone, election was proper - 'punching bag' Chebukati

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati announces results of the repeat presidential election at the Bomas of Kenya national tallying centre in Nairobi, October 30, 2017. /MONICAH MWANGI
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati announces results of the repeat presidential election at the Bomas of Kenya national tallying centre in Nairobi, October 30, 2017. /MONICAH MWANGI

The repeat presidential poll was free and fair, IEBC said on Monday, despite Opposition complaints over the vote that led to it boycotting the process.

Chairman Wafula Chebukati described the process before breaking down county numbers in the race that will see President Uhuru Kenyatta declared president-elect.

"I'm satisfied that we were able to meet conditions that enabled the commission to deliver a free, fair and credible election," he said, noting he gave a statement on preparedness on October 18.

"I am confident we did everything to ensure every Kenyan exercised their right to vote....We came up with a fresh presidential election management team to address concerns. To us as IEBC, all Kenyans and observers, we have had a free, fair and credible election."

He noted only verified results were displayed on the screens at the Bomas of Kenya national tallying centre in Nairobi.

Chebukati further noted they respect the choice Kenyans made when they voted on October 26 and that he was turned into a punching bag but that they cannot please everyone.

"People found a good punching bag in me but those in IEBC say I cannot be influenced. I cannot please alI," he said.

"It is unfortunate that some have found a punching bag in me while others say I am too principled. In our work, we still will not please everyone."

Chebukati also spoke on the four Nyanza counties where demonstrations took place and NASA supporters prevented IEBC staff from working and people from voting,.

Supporters of NASA candidate Raila Odinga boycotted the election in counties including Homa Bay, Migori, Siaya and Homa Bay.

This was what Raila told them to do after withdrawing over lack of reforms at the commission.

The commission had to postpone the election in 25 - out of 290 constituencies - in the four counties following violent protests against the vote.

Chebukati said: "Polling stations were available and materials ready for dispatch but the situations were not conducive for an election. We tried to find an immediate practical date for the exercise to be conducted but after review, we could not determine one. We respect the people's choice on whether to vote or not."

He said he tried to restore stability but stopped as he could not continue living in contravention of the law he wowed to abide by.

More on this: 'Uhuru rigging against himself': Raila claims ROs asked to beef up numbers

"IEBC TESTED"

On September 1, the Supreme Court ordered that IEBC conducts a fresh presidential election in accordance with the constitution.

This followed a petition by Raila, whose co-principals in the National Super Alliance are Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula (Ford Kenya) and Musalia Mudavadi (ANC).

The chair said his team was tested but that he believes they did a good job.

"Our values, character and future have been tested through this election. We have had to conduct two elections in a span of two months," he noted.

"Our staff members, innocent children and civilians have died and many others are nursing injuries because of political competition. We are where we are because the Supreme Court invalidated the August 8 election on grounds of illegalities and irregularities."

Chris Msando was IEBC's acting ICT manager until his murder  in July. 

 The chairman honoured commissioners and county staff saying they were the real heroes and noted that one of them "left us". He was referring to former commissioner Roselyn Akombe who said the commission was incapable of a free and fair poll.

Read: Akombe cries for Kenya, chides countries for backing 'deeply flawed' system

Also read: Msando's family worried about state's silence three months after murder

Chebukati noted the importance of asking key questions and comparing Kenya's electoral process to those of other African countries.

"We need to pause and ask ourselves why the Kenyan presidential election is so competitive, what the roots of popularisation in such elections are and why IEBC is never perceived as a fair umpire," he said. "I believe Kenya can become a good example of democracy."

Earlier today, IEBC vice chair Consolata Nkatha said the commission had received and verified Forms 34B from all the constituencies where people voted.

She said the commission, having completed the verification of forms 34B, consulted widely on repercussions of announcing the results without the 25 constituencies in the four counties.

Nkatha said the current political circumstances cannot determine an immediate practical time where the repeat election can be conducted in the Nyanza counties.

More on this: IEBC to declare Uhuru president-elect without Nyanza numbers

Also read: Siaya leaders laugh off IEBC's plan to inaugurate Uhuru

Additional reporting by Reuters Africa @ReutersAfrica

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