Azimio-allied leaders accuse IEBC of partisan politics in poll delay

Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali (left) and Navakhola MP Emmanuel Wangwe join in a dance on January 7, 2017 drumming up support for Jubilee Party in Kakamega County. Mr Wangwe is confident of being re-elected. PHOTO | ISAAC WALE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Some leaders from Western Kenya have accused the chairman of the electoral agency of playing partisan politics and plotting to favour one side in the upcoming Kakamega governor election.

The leaders, who are affiliated to the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition, condemned Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati’s unilateral decision to postpone the poll indefinitely for a second time, over security concerns.

“These concerns are nonexistent in Kakamega County, where not a single incident of insecurity has been reported nor any complaint recorded by the IEBC officers in Kakamega,” said Navakholo MP Emmanuel Wangwe.

Citing a National Security Advisory Committee report delivered by Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, Mr Wangwe pointed out that there are no security threats across the country.

“The people of Kakamega take exception to this decision that is a direct affront to their rights to have a functional county government,” said the leaders in a joint statement.

The politicians, including outgoing and incoming leaders, spoke in Kisumu on Friday. They called on the IEBC to convene a proper plenary to rescind what they called an “illegal and political” decision and facilitate the Kakamega returning officer to run the election on August 23 as earlier scheduled.

“This postponement is causing unnecessary panic and anxiety and can easily disrupt the peaceful environment in Kakamega,” said outgoing Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.

The leaders, who included Busia governor-elect Paul Otuoma, called on their supporters to turn out in large numbers and vote ODM candidate Fernandes Barasa and his deputy Ayub Savula.

Moved to court

This came as Mr Barasa moved to court seeking to compel the IEBC to conduct elections in the county on August 23.

He argued that the indefinite postponement will deprive Kakamega residents of basic services that they are entitled, noting that the incumbent governor now has limited powers.

“They are hell-bent on imposing their projects on the people of Kakamega, and by extension Mombasa, by rigging the gubernatorial elections in their favour,” Mr Barasa said.

But his key rival and ANC candidate Cleophas Malala has expressed support for the electoral agency as he leads vigorous campaigns across the 12 constituencies to woo voters.

“We shall respect whichever direction IEBC takes and embark on vigorous campaigns to remind the people of Kakamega that our county requires fresh and good leadership,” said the outgoing Kakamega senator.

The elections, which were to take place on August 9, were postponed on technical grounds.

Meanwhile, Azimio-affiliated leaders have reiterated their commitment to remaining united under Azimio and unanimously support Raila Odinga’s decision to reject the outcome of the presidential poll that showed UDA’s William Ruto won.

“We vow to support actions taken by the Azimio leadership to take the matter to the Supreme Court and reclaim our victory,” Mr Oparanya said.

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