Kenyan Opposition Threatens Protests Over Electoral Body CEO
(Bloomberg) -- Kenya’s opposition National Super Alliance threatened to stage street protests and prevent a rerun of last month’s annulled presidential election if the head of the country’s electoral authority refuses to step down.
Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba should be removed or the opposition will hold “mass demonstrations,” Norman Magaya, the CEO of the alliance, said by phone Tuesday from the capital, Nairobi. “There will be no election.”
The opposition group also plans to start “contempt proceedings” against the IEBC for failing to comply with a Supreme Court order to allow full scrutiny of its computer servers.
Kenya’s top court annulled the Aug. 8 presidential vote, won by President Uhuru Kenyatta, after finding the election hadn’t been conducted in accordance with the constitution. Opposition leader Raila Odinga has called for electoral body officials including Chiloba to be removed before the rerun takes place on Oct. 17. The chairman of the authority last week wrote to Chiloba asking him to explain a series of failures in last month’s ballot.
Uncertainty about the outcome of the presidential vote has clouded the outlook for East Africa’s biggest economy, where growth is already slowing. Kenya is the world’s largest shipper of black tea and a regional hub for companies including Google Inc. and Coca-Cola Co.
The commission on Monday signaled that there will be no changes to its executive body when it announced that “one team with a common vision” will handle the Oct. 17 rerun. It said Chiloba has been tasked with assessing the “implementation challenges” in the August vote.
A meeting between IEBC officials and members of the opposition and the ruling Jubilee Party that was to have taken place earlier on Tuesday to discuss plans for the rerun was postponed because of a disagreement about the agenda, Musalia Mudavadi, a co-leader of the alliance, told reporters. Odinga said his coalition wants returning officers involved in stealing votes in the Aug. 8 election removed, as he reiterated his call for Chiloba and other officials to be removed.
“We are saying we are not going to an election with that team,” he told thousands of cheering supporters at a rally in the Nairobi slum of Kibera, an opposition stronghold. “If the terms we have set out are not fulfilled, there will be no election.”
Former Kenyan Justice Minister Martha Karua has asked the country’s High Court to annul the entire election, including gubernatorial, senatorial and legislation votes, citing “irregularities and illegalities,” the Nairobi-based Star newspaper reported on Tuesday.