Kenya Election Crisis: Adventists in Key Roles Help Keep the Peace
By Tysan, August 21, 2017: Ezra Chiloba, the chief executive officer of the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IBEC), the government entity that runs elections for Kenya, has said that his agency is ready to conduct another election should the Supreme Court rule in favor of a petition filed by the party that lost the recent balloting for the country’s presidency. Chiloba happens to be an Adventist, as are at least two other key players in the nation’s crisis: Supreme Court Chief Justice David Maraga, who will preside over the court panel that will consider the petition, and the cabinet secretary for the Interior Department, Fred Matiangi, who will have ultimate responsibility for keeping peace amid the tensions created by the political crisis.
The National Super Alliance (NASA) filed a petition disputing the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta, claiming that the IEBC erroneously declared him the winner and that the polls were rigged. Adventist Today reported on this yesterday and has a reporter in Kenya covering this major story.
“I think the question should be, would the country be ready to conduct another election?” Chiloba said on Sunday (August 20). “When we get there of course we should be able to do what the law requires us to do.”
The petition filed with the Supreme Court was filed on Friday night (August 18) identifies 12 counties where it claims massive ballot fraud gave Kenyatta the win. There is uncertainty about the status of the petition because Wafula Chebukati, the chairman of the IBEC, tweeted on Sunday that he had not yet been served with the required legal papers.
“NASA is yet to serve us with the petition,” Chebukati said. “Attempts to collect it from their lawyers on record proved futile as their offices were closed.”
One of the NASA lawyers, Paul Mwangi dismissed the claim adding that all parties to the suit had been served. “All parties to the Presidential Election Petition have been served and have their documents. Ignore all mischievous claims,” he tweeted. Mwangi said Kenyatta’s lawyer Fred Ngatia has requested to get the papers from the NASA offices and that he had sent an assistant to collect them.
The Supreme Court rules for a presidential election petition provide two days for parties to be served by the petitioner. The rules also direct that the respondents be served electronically within six hours after filing and through a newspaper which has a national circulation within two days. On Sunday (August 20) NASA placed an advert in one of the local dailies in Nairobi, the capital city.
The petition states that in these counties, the NASA representatives were kicked out of polling stations and replaced with impostors who proceeded to sign blank documents certifying the ballot count (Form 34A) using fake names. These counties where the petition says that President Kenyatta was awarded extra votes and the Form 34As from these places and the IEBC’s final tally do not match: Mombasa, Meru, Kwale, Machakos, Kitui, Nakuru, Wajir, West Pokot, Kirinyaga, Makueni and Nairobi.
In Nairobi the problems involve at least 62 constituencies, the petition states. In Kirinyaga county’s Ndia constituency, the Form 34A and Form 34Bs ballot counts did not match. The opposition also claims that President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto bribed and threatened to sack Makueni county chiefs if they did not influence voters ahead of the August 8 poll.
With this political crisis, the Adventist community has found themselves in a pivotal role, starting with the IEBC which contains a number of Adventist staff who are widely believed to be trustworthy public servants, including the Chief Justice who is chairing the seven-judge panel that will decide the legal challenge to the election results, and the cabinet secretary who is in charge of the country’s security and peace officers.
Adventists in Kenya number nearly one million in a total national population of 49 million. The Adventist denomination in Kenya runs two universities in addition to a number of schools and hospitals. It also owns dozens of medical clinics.
Adventist Today sent a reporter to Kenya to cover the current crisis. If you have specific questions or leads on stories that should be reported, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Kenya” in the subject line.