News 2008


Activists storm ECK meeting

March 11, 2008


By Jibril Adan

Civil society activists stormed an Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) meeting and held the chairman, Mr Samuel Kivuitu, and his staff hostage.

The activists, under the umbrella of National Civil Society Congress (NCSC), stormed ECK’s conference at Sun n Sand Beach Resort in the North Coast on Monday and demanded that the hotel management evict the commissioners.

They said they would not share the premises with ECK because it "had let down Kenyans".

NCSC were booked at the hotel for a separate conference, but were ‘surprised’ to find that they were in a conference hall less than 300 metres from where ECK was holding its meeting.

The protesters took over the high table in the ECK meeting room from where Mr Okoiti Omtata read the two-page statement to the commissioners.

"You have no business spending taxpayers money meeting in lavish five-star hotels such as this one when more than half-a-million Kenyans are languishing in misery, poverty and torture as a result of your actions," said Omtata.

The activists gave Kivuitu and his men one week to resign.

"We hereby give you notice that we will mobilise Kenyans to evict you from your offices within one week if you fail to leave," Omtata said.

Another activist, former Nyeri Town MP, Mr Wanyiri Kihoro said: "We have been looking for these people since the beginning of this year". He said they would mobilise Kenyans to protest against the officials’ stay in office.

Earlier in the morning, Kivuitu had declined to field questions from journalists, but opted to sign a short statement. Asked by The Standard if he would resign, Kivuitu just shook his head and went back to the conference room.

In the signed statement, he said, "ECK has always believed that due process should be followed in determining alleged wrongdoing by the commission or its staff."

Reacting to calls that they should resign, he said it amounted to "a public condemnation without giving ECK an opportunity to defend itself through a competent forum".

Kivuitu also reiterated his earlier statements that he supported an impartial investigation by a competent team into ECK’s activities.