Kenya politics: Quick View - Election commissioner resigns and flees

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Economist Intelligence Unit
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On October 18th Roselyn Akombe, one of seven commissioners on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), resigned her post, left the country and said the rerun of the presidential election scheduled for October 26th would not be credible.


Ms Akombe, speaking in the US after her departure, pointed to deep divisions within the IEBC, which is split on partisan lines, leaving it unable to achieve consensus or take important decisions. She described the rerun as a "mockery to electoral integrity", and feared for her safety after receiving several death threats, especially after the brutal killing of the former IEBC technology boss, Chris Msando, a week before the original August 8th election, who received similar threats.

Ms Akombe's resignation casts further doubt on the credibility of the scheduled rerun, following the withdrawal of the main opposition candidate, Raila Odinga (National Super Alliance; Nasa), on October 10th. He blamed the IEBC's resistance to vital reforms, alongside the ruling Jubilee Party's passage through parliament of controversial amendments to electoral laws, which now await the assent of the president, Uhuru Kenyatta.

The rerun seems likely to take place as planned, especially given the end-October constitutional deadline, but the process may not be credible, tarnished in part by an opposition boycott, which could lead to low or zero turnout in some areas. Moreover, the 60-day time period for the rerun, despite being constitutionally mandated, is proving far too short, given the number of flaws that need correcting and the Jubilee Party's objection to meaningful reforms. The Jubilee Party, believing it was unfairly deprived of victory and unwilling to accept any other outcome, appears to be as intransigent as the opposition. Accompanied by harsh police crackdowns on opposition protesters, the deadlock increases the risk of more widespread violence.

Assuming the rerun goes ahead without Mr Odinga, the opposition will challenge the outcome in court on two main grounds. First, that the irregularities cited by the Supreme Court when annulling the initial result were not corrected and, second, that the contest should not have taken place at all after Mr Odinga withdrew, according to the opposition's reading of the constitution and electoral laws. The court could accept the rerun outcome, order another rerun or call for fresh elections.

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