Adventists Concerned about “Good Name” in Aftermath of Kenya Election Crisis
By Tysan, September 14, 2017: Ezra Chiloba, the chief executive officer of the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in Kenya, is an Adventist. After the nation’s Supreme Court nullified the August 8 presidential election due to irregularities and potential fraud, some Adventist church members have told Adventist Today that Chiloba let them down and brought shame on the good name of the denomination.
The opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition of political parties has stated that Chiloba was responsible for the irregularities and illegalities that caused the court to nullify the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta. “We want our leaders … to be right even if that righteousness will cost them their life,” an Adventist woman in Migori County told Adventist Today, “because that’s what we are told from the Bible and taught in our denomination.”
The court did not single out any individuals as guilty of any wrongdoing, but that has not kept Kenyan’s from playing the blame game. The opposition candidate for president, Raila Odinga, has urged Kenyatta to resign as president, at least until the re-do balloting scheduled for October 17. There are rumors that Wafula Chebukati, the chairman of IEBC, wants Chiloba pushed aside.
A leaked memo from Chebukati appears to demand answers from Chiloba regarding the election debacle, but other commissioners, led by Vice Chair Consalata Maina, said that IEBC had not discussed the matter. After the massive national crisis surrounding the election and the unprecedented ruling by the court, it is not surprising that there are tensions between Chebukati and Chiloba.
In the memo the chairman appoints a new team to manage the upcoming second round election, but Chiloba told the East African newspaper this is nothing new. “We’ve always run our major operations under project teams,” he was quoted in the paper. “This is how we operate.”
In other fallout from the failed election, Odinga wrote to the French government asking them to investigate the IT firm Safran for allegedly subverting democracy in Kenya by aiding electoral fraud. Odinga has also asked President Kenyatta to disqualify himself from the next vote “as a matter of honor and principle,” according to The Standard newspaper.
Adventist Today has found that Adventists in Kenya have opinions about the election often based on their political affiliation. Some question Kenyatta’s constitutional right to continue as president, while others support him. In Kenya, as in the rest of the world, the majority of Adventists are rarely found on a single side of major political issues.
The IEBC has released a schedule for the election process leading up to the October 17 second round of balloting. From September 13 to 18, there will be a review of polling places and tallying centers. By September 17, the commission will hire 40,883 field staff to operate the polls and the IT system that will collect and compute the vote. All international and local observers must be accredited by the same date. The framework for operations will be solidified by September 20. Voter education will begin September 18 and continue to October 15.
A reporter for Adventist Today will continue to follow and report on developments in Kenya. This is an important story both because of the significant percentage of Adventists among the population of Kenya and the fact that a number of the key government officials involved are Adventists.