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Kenya election official flees country and claims presidential vote will not be free

A senior Kenyan electoral official has resigned and fled the country, in a new blow to the country’s presidential vote due to be held in eight days’ time.

Roselyn Akombe quit as a commissioner of Kenya’s electoral board by issuing a statement from New York saying the rerun of the presidential election scheduled for 26 October cannot be free and fair.

“I do not want to be party to such a mockery to electoral integrity,” Akombe said in a statement.


The flight of such a high-profile electoral official underlines the growing crisis in the east Africa state, long seen as a bastion of relative political stability in a volatile region.

The US-educated former United Nations official told the BBC she had fled from Kenya to New York after receiving numerous threats but did not identify who was threatening her.

“This election as planned cannot meet the basic expectations of a credible election,” said Akombe, who was one of seven election board commissioners.

“Not when the staff are getting last-minute instructions on changes in technology and electronic transmission of results. Not when in parts of country, the training of presiding officers is being rushed for fear of attacks from protesters,” she said.

“We need the commission to be courageous and speak out,” said Akombe.

Speaking later in the day, the head of Kenya’s election commission, Wafula Chebukati, said that despite “full technical preparedness” for this month’s fresh presidential vote, it is “difficult to guarantee free, fair and credible elections.”

The incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta, won the poll in August, beating veteran opposition politician Raila Odinga by nine percentage points.

But Odinga mounted a legal challenge claiming the electoral commission’s computer system had been tampered with to produce false results. The supreme court annulled the elections, citing irregularities and ordered a fresh election, which will be held next week.

Odinga has withdrawn from the fresh poll, saying the electoral commission has not made sufficient changes, such as new members or new procedures, to guarantee a fair election.

Akombe’s resignation will further undermine confidence in the coming polls, which face a number of tough logistic challenges.
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