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Urban Café with Miriam Angila


Step back from the brink : An open letter to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Rt. Hon Raila Odinga

By admin on Tue, 24/10/2017 - 16:58


Dear Mr. President and Rt. Hon. Odinga,


The Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya) wishes

to directly raise concern with Your Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and Your

Excellency Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga on the stand-off around the proposed fresh

presidential election to be held on the 26th of October 2017.


The 26th of October 2017 is slowly yet surely approaching. The Independent

Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has re-stated that it is ready to hold

the election on this date. Paradoxically even as it asserts this, Commissioner Dr.

Roselyn Akombe has not only resigned from office but fled the country fearing for her

life. Her family too had earlier fled the country following incessant threats which have

not been investigated. Dr. Akombe’s resignation letter casts doubt on the ability of

the IEBC to hold a free, fair and credible election next week.


In statement to the nation shortly after Dr. Akombe’s resignation, the Chairman of the

IEBC Wafula Chebukati, partly agrees with this assertion citing the hostile political

environment as one key reason free and fair elections might not be possible. Both

commissioners also cite hostilities and divisions within the Commission. That a

majority of commissioners have a pre-disposed position during Commission plenary

meetings is a clear indication that the Commission as a whole has lost its

independence. Dr. Akombe, who was Chairperson of the Elections Operations

Committee – a critical IEBC organ - had this to say:

The commission has become party to the current crisis. They are keen to have

elections in spite of the fact that IEBC staff and Kenyans in affected counties lives

might be lost.

The Chairman had this to say:


That the country faces a dilemma between operational preparedness and the

political environment for credible elections.


The Chairman states in clear terms that there does not exist a conducive

environment in which to hold free and fair elections. The Chairman also insinuates that Raila Odinga’s withdrawal casts doubt as to whether President Uhuru’s eventual

win will be viewed as legitimate and unify the country.


The political, economic and social stability of Kenya beyond the 26th of October is in

serious doubt. We have already witnessed hundreds of General Service Unit police

officers allegedly being deployed to NASA strongholds with the idea of securing the

presidential election. We are also aware that NASA, through you, Rt. Hon. Odinga,

has called for nationwide protests on the 26th of October 2017. We are equally aware

that you, Mr. President have vowed that the election will go on even in those



As you, our political leaders, continue with this game of brinkmanship, an

increasingly worried and anxious nation ponders, “What happens when an

unstoppable force encounters an immovable obstacle?” We do not have an answer,

but from past experience, we know that innocent people suffer.


Given the above and recalling that Kenya has already lost tens of lives, including

children, at the hands of police, ICJ Kenya wishes to pose to you Mr. President and

you Hon. Odinga the following questions:




Is this not an opportune time to step back from the brink and reflect on whether the

26th of October 2017 will yield the desired results that the nation you lead

desperately hopes for?


Are free and fair elections possible in an environment that is filled with fear, violence,

intimidation and improper influence?


Are free and fair elections possible for those voters who wish to participate yet reside

in opposition strongholds, given the hostile political climate they face? Will their

safety be guaranteed after they vote, given the hostile political environment? Will

they not be subjected to profiling and forceful displacement from the hostile

communities that identify with the grave legitimate issues raised by you Hon.



Will we not witness revenge attacks targeting members of other communities

residing in Jubilee-dominated areas as we witnessed in the 2007 post election



Will we, therefore, have any semblance of a united country after the 26th of October

2017? Or will we be a nation at war with itself?


Recalling that the police were responsible for more than 400 lives lost during the post-election violence of 2007-8, will we not see more young lives lost during

protests at the hands of an even more vicious and unaccountable police force? Have

we not lost enough lives and suffered sufficient injuries to warrant your realization

that this country faces a grave risk of being lost on your watch?




Have we really learnt lessons from the 2007-8 post-election violence that political

compromise is most critical before rather than after a flawed election in order to safe

guard life and limb? To put it more graphically, will you have the presence of mind to

reach a compromise now and sign a document with pen and ink, or are you

determined to wait and sign the said document with pens dripping with the blood of

innocent Kenyans?


In view of the forgoing, understanding that Kenya is constitutionally obligated to hold

a fresh presidential election within 60 days of the Supreme Court decision of 1st

September 2017, but given the fact that we do not believe a conducive environment

currently exists to hold the fresh presidential election on 26th of October 2017 and

that innocent voters’ lives will be lost if we proceed in this manner, we the ICJ Kenya

advise as follows:


  1.  That the Chairman of the IEBC, as National Returning Officer, urgently return

to the Supreme Court and seek further instructions on how to proceed, given

the hostile and volatile political environment, the resignation of a key member

of the Commission who has fled the country fearing for her life, the fact that a

majority of IEBC Commissioners are allegedly operating under duress and the

attacks on IEBC Staff who now fear for their lives if they are to proceed with

the court order as currently issued.


  1.  That the IEBC chair pray the Supreme Court to vacate the orders issued on

1st September 2017 and issue further appropriate orders following

submissions from all parties to ensure free, fair, credible and peaceful

elections in a conducive environment, which does not exist at this time.



  1. That you, Mr. President Kenyatta and you, Hon. Odinga use this moment to

broker a political solution and urgently consider the need to heal the divisions

that are threatening to tear this country apart. For, even with an election

victory guaranteed on the 26th of October 2017 in the environment that exists

at present, you, Mr. President will be unable to be accepted as Head of State

in large parts of the country and therefore will be unable to fulfill the

constitutional demands of your role which include being a symbol of national

unity. The inability to play this critical role means that the presidency will

become a divisive institution and risk ultimately losing its legitimacy.


  1.  In our considered opinion, immediate political solutions to the crisis a. In the short term, an agreement be urgently sought on both sides on

how to ensure that a conducive peaceable political environment is

restored within the shortest time possible to enable the country to carry

out a free, fair, credible and peaceful fresh presidential election. This is

not a call for a coalition, caretaker or transitional government because

for a government to enjoy legitimacy, it must be elected by the Kenyan

people in a free, fair, credible and peaceful election. It is, rather, a

common-sense proposal to enable our country to step back from the

brink of the precipice.           


b. In the medium term, a solution be sought, including the possible

establishment of a Peoples Conference led by a decision-making organ

whose mandate will include allowing you, Mr. President, and you, Hon.

Raila, and other stakeholders to explore and find just and peaceful

ways out of the current political impasse and address its root causes

through constitutional means.



  1.  That in the unfortunate event that our counsel falls on deaf ears and the

planned fresh presidential election does go ahead on the 26th of October

2017, we urge Kenyans to vote peacefully and those who wish to protest to do

so peacefully and not interfere with voters wishing to exercise their

constitutional right to vote.


In conclusion, Mr. President and Rt. Hon. Raila, we take this opportunity to remind

you that our country faces great peril at this moment and in the coming days. But

times of great peril can also be times of great opportunity for any nation. The key

variable is whether its leaders are content to remain mere politicians pursuing short-term

partisan interests or they summon up the courage to rise up and answer the call

of the moment and make critical decisions that will save their republic, guarantee

them a place in the hearts of their people, and etch their name permanently in the

history of their nation. That time, Your Excellencies, in now.


Yours sincerely,


Njonjo Mue

Chairman, International Commission of Jurists – Kenya




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