The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman, Wafula Chebukati, on Wednesday afternoon (October 18), made a speech, which had sections speculating that he was going to step down, given the initial tone, diction and progression of the televised address to the nation.
“I would rather bow out with my name intact and my head lifted high than be part of a process that serves personal interests instead of interests of the nation. I realised that my actions in this noble office will define me for life. My actions will become my legacy, and a reference point not only for my life and that of my family.
“I am therefore not ready to sacrifice an eternal legacy for short term gains that will disturb my conscience,” said Chebukati, in a statement, which quotas were speculating that it would be followed by: ‘I hereby announce my resignation as Chairman of the IEBC’. That did not happen. Chebukati, instead, said: “I know there are elements who would be happy to hear me announce my resignation at this point, in reality, that would be the easiest thing to do, but we all have to put our country first, and that is why I am determined to make this country work.”
Read Chebukati’s speech below:
“I address you (Kenyans) as a lawyer because I chose this noble profession to defend the law at all cost, without fear or favour, and without any form of partiality come what may. I became a lawyer to defend people who cannot defend themselves.
“An election is not an event; it is a process, which has a beginning and progresses toward an end. As such, I have vowed to ensure transparency, verifiability and accountability in the entire process – from the beginning to the end.
“Fellow Kenyans, we are faced with a dilemma as a nation, one between the status of operation preparedness and political environment for a credible election.
“From an operational angle, we are ready for the October 26 presidential election. While today, I want to confirm to you our full technical preparedness for the election, I want to state categorically that I shall not go down in history of this country as a National Returning Officer, who plunged the nation into a further crisis than I found it.
“It is already painful to be on record as a Chairman of the IEBC that presided over a presidential election that was nullified by the Supreme Court. I have made several attempts to make critical changes to the Commission but all my motions have been defeated by a majority of the commissioners. Under such conditions, it is difficult to guarantee free, fair and credible elections.
“Without critical changes at the Secretariat, free, fair and credible elections will surely be compromised. I therefore call on the staff, who have been adversely mentioned, to step aside and allow a project team created to oversee the repeat election do its work.
“We can still salvage the situation if we put our country forward. The expectation Kenyans have on me is so high, yet I cannot continue working with a divided commission. Before August 8 general election, the commission worked devoid of any divisions. I cannot move forward when presidential candidates refuse to put their personal interests aside and for once serve the country. I took this job to move the country forward and not to plunge the country into a crisis.
“As a victim of the 2007/2008 post election violence, I will not sit at the helm of the commission as we plunge possibly into a worse situation than 2007/2008 PEV. As a lawyer, I cannot accept to be pushed by majority commissioners to accept legal opinions that serve partisan interests and are not based on the Constitution and the law. In the least, I find this as intellectual dishonesty in which my professional training does not approve of.”
I’M READY TO PRESIDE OVER YOUR MEETING: CHEBUKATI TO RAILA, UHURU
The IEBC Chairman urged President Uhuru Kenyatta and NASA leader, Raila Odinga, to embrace dialogue so as to find a permanent solution to the election impasse facing Kenyans.
“I appeal to the leaders and supporters of the main parties, Jubilee and NASA, to come together and dialogue so that we help restore the dignity, genuine independence and respect for our institutions,” said Chebukati.
“As such, as the referee of this contest, I am extending my invitation to the candidates to a meeting that I shall preside over so that they can talk. Politics should not make people enemies. I am giving yellow cards to all the political leaders in this country. I won’t tolerate threats on commissioners anymore; I won’t tolerate interference in the commission anymore. Kenyans are paying a lot of money for this election. And as their custodian, I won’t let the money of the Kenyan people or the development partners go to waste any more. Peace is what we get when the winner did not help the process.”