Kivuitu had hoped to be a poll observer

Mr Samuel Kivuitu, the former chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya, presents the results of the 2007 presidential elections to PNU's candidate Mwai Kibaki in this file picture .

What you need to know:

  • Despite criticism over last elections, ex-ECK chief says Kenyans will remember him ‘with a lot of love’

At this time five years ago, the national spotlight was on one man: then electoral commission chief Samuel Kivuitu.

As fires were lit across the county following the disputed 2007 presidential poll pitting President Kibaki against the Orange Democratic Movement’s Raila Odinga, some fingers were pointed at Mr Kivuitu.

“I will burn with it,” Kenyans would remember him responding to pressure by ODM politicians who cautioned that the “country was burning” because of his delay in declaring the results. Earlier, he had joked that his staff were “cooking up” the results.

Five years later, the man criticised for bungling the 2007 elections is no longer in the public limelight.

Mr Kivuitu, who was admitted to the Nairobi Hospital during the Christmas period after a three-week treatment in India is fighting throat cancer, which has seen him in and out of hospital for the past two years.

A close family member on Wednesday said Mr Kivuitu was recuperating in Nairobi after the India trip.

In a past interview with the Nation after weeks of treatment in India, the former elections chief said although the effects of the disease had slowed him down, he hoped to participate in the March 4 election as an observer and document his expertise in election management in a book.

Despite the criticisms, the lawyer says he believes that a good number of Kenyans celebrate his work and would “remember him with a lot of love”.

“People don’t understand what happened. I cannot be influenced by money or force.”

And as the country prepares for the polls, Mr Kivuitu advised Kenyans to respect their institutions and fight ethnicity.

“The big tribes should know that they cannot rule alone.”

In the interview, Mr Kivuitu blamed President Kibaki’s appointment of members of the electoral commission for the bungled elections. He maintains that he did nothing wrong.

Instead, he pushes the buck to the skewed appointment of electoral commissioners by President Kibaki, saying the move deprived his team of public confidence.

President Kibaki ignored calls by the Opposition, then led by Mr Odinga, to involve them in filling positions in the now defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya.

“Commissioners were appointed in a way that I disapproved. President Kibaki should have consulted the opposition. I was not in full control of the commission because I was working with people who were uncomfortable with me,” he said.

Mr Kivuitu was accused of making reckless comments during tallying at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre but he does not regret his comments.

“Kenyans are used to me. They know I speak my mind irrespective of who is listening. I was complaining about the delay in transmission of results like everybody else.”

According to Mr Kivuitu, the only thing that went wrong is that he was duped into announcing the results before only one media house, the national broadcaster KBC.

He says as he sat to announce the results from a “private room” he was not aware that other media houses were not represented.

The 2008 violence claimed over 1,300 lives and saw the displacement of thousands of families.

“I did my job which was to announce the results as they were presented by returning officers. I owe nobody an apology. Given an opportunity I will do it again,” he said.

“I was asked whether I thought President Kibaki won fairly and I said I didn’t know. My argument was that issues of fairness could only be determined by other institutions such as courts of law.”