Kenya: Demonstrators storm electoral body meeting

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An Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) meeting was disrupted Monday when members of the civil society stormed the venue to demand the immediate resignation of its embattled chairperson Samuel Kivuitu and his 22 subordinates.

The civil society members, who were in a retreat at a hotel at this coastal town where ECK was meeting, accused Mr. Kivuitu and the other commissioners of being responsible for the recent political chaos that drove the East African nation to almost a civil war.

The demonstrators demanded that ECK officials be ejected from the hotel as “they were a disgrace to the nation and were misusing public resources after plunging the country into chaos.” Police had to be called in to prevent the demonstrators from evicting the commissioners.

Since the UN-brokered power-sharing deal was signed between President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) and opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), pressure has been mounting on Kenya’s electoral body to disband to pave the way for the reconstitution of an independent replacement.

Prominent lawyer and politician Paul Muite was quoted here Monday in a daily newspaper as calling for the investigation of ECK “with a view to pressing criminal charges against them”.

“The ECK must be disbanded immediately or at the very least step aside to pave the way for independent investigations of its conduct of the 2007 general election,” Mr. Muite said.

The fate of ECK will be known once an international team of investigators that consists of prominent lawyers from South Africa, Ghana and Malawi starts investigating the conduct of the 27 December disputed presidential poll.

A schedule released last week by UN mediators that are currently meeting in the Kenyan capital to find long-term solutions to the country’s long-standing political disputes shows international investigators with the backing of the African Union, United Sates and European Union, will commence the process 15 March.

The process will take six months to complete.

ODM deputy leader Musalia Mudavadi said ECK had had the democratic rights of the electorate after presiding over flawed election.

Mr. Mudavadi said, “Good ethical standard is that they should step aside. ECK is not only facing a crisis locally but also internationally.” Panapress.

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