Kenyan opposition parties have been demonstrating for the past two weeks demanding personnel changes in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the government arm tasked with monitoring and managing elections. Clashes between protesters and the police escalated on Monday, leaving at least four people dead.
According to political scientist Ken Opalo, the push to change the IEBC has come largely from the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), a coalition of multiple parties opposed to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee government. Opposition politicians belonging to CORD and the Kenya African National Union (KANU) have accused the IEBC of supporting Mr. Kenyatta’s government. CORD has argued that IEBC was used to rig the controversial 2013 elections, while KANU has accused it of fixing the Kericho senatorial bi-election.
Mr. Kenyatta has expressed preparedness on behalf of his Jubilee government to form a committee comprising of representatives from both houses of Parliament to “strictly and exclusively” discuss the IEBC controversy, The Star has reported.
The president’s announcement came after talks between his government, CORD, Jubilee, and other political stakeholders seeking to improve Kenya’s electoral infrastructure.
“We welcomed the move as a start in the search for the way forward on the matter of IEBC. Today, Jubilee coalition met and made further announcements on representatives to the envisaged negotiations,” CORD said in a press release.
According to the statement, each party will send two representatives to the talks.
CORD leaders also met with US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec and religious leaders on Thursday morning to discuss the IEBC stalemate. While the details of he meeting have not yet been disclosed, the secretary-general of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) said the talks were constructive but they were not able to reach an agreement.
“We are happy that issues of contention are reducing dramatically,” he said.
Kenyans will head to the polls on August 8, 2017. Mr. Kenyatta, who was elected in 2013, will seek to extend his tenure.