USA, Britain offer to help Kenya probe into murder of poll official

Kenya IEBC Officials

The USA and British governments on Monday offered assistance to Kenya in efforts to investigate the murder of the head of ICT at Kenya’s electoral body (IEBC), Chris Msando.

In a joint statement issued in Nairobi, U.S. ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec and British High Commissioner Nic Hailey said they were gravely concerned by the murder of Msando as they sent condolence to the family, friends and the entire IEBC team.

“It is critical that Kenya have free, fair, credible and peaceful elections on Aug. 8, and protection for IEBC staff is essential to achieving this goal,” the two envoys said.

They welcomed Kenya’s commitment to investigating the murder. “We have offered our assistance in the investigation,” they added.

The body of Msando was found in a forest in Kikuyu in the outskirts of Nairobi hours after he had gone missing.

He had been tortured before his murder. His naked body was discovered by locals who called police. He had an injury in the head, neck, back and right hand.

Msando was responsible for the entire body of electoral data that is the basis of next month’s election, including the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS). That includes voter identity verification, results transmission and the entire electronic tallying process.

Msando had gone missing on Friday night. He was last spotted on Mombasa Road at about 3 am on Saturday. His car was found abandoned in Roysambu area on Saturday morning.

Msando’s murder has been roundly condemned by IEBC, human rights groups and opposition leaders.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati demanded a government explanation for the ICT manager’s murder. “As a commission we demand to know who killed him and why. That is the question that must be answered,” said Chebukati.

He said the murder coming few days to the election sends a wrong signal to their staff and demanded that all IEBC employees be protected.

“I demand that the government provide security to all IEBC staff to be able to give Kenyans free, fair and credible elections. We look forward that all Kenyans must be secured too,” said Chebukati.

The IEBC chairman said a planned election simulation that was to be staged on Monday was postponed after they learnt Msando had died. They were headed to the venue of the simulation exercise then when they received news the body had been discovered at the mortuary.

He appealed to the IEBC staff to be calm and focused to deliver the coming polls.

Chebukati described Msando as one of the most educated and dedicated staff at the commission.

“We will carry on from where he had reached. He was one of the most educated staff at the commission on matters of ICT,” he said.

The deceased was one of the few staff at the commission with knowledge of where the ICT servers are kept. His right hand was badly severed giving an indication his killers tortured him before killing him.

The body was picked up by police from Kikuyu police station who booked it at the City Mortuary as unidentified. The body was booked in at 11.25 am on Saturday.

An hour later, another body of a woman was discovered in the same area and brought to the mortuary. Just like Msando, the woman’s body was naked.

Her body had injuries on the hands and bloodstains were visible when it was brought there. It is not clear if the two were together.

Police and the family of the ICT manager had been searching for him since Friday night. The family had reported the matter to the Embakasi police station prompting a police search.

The opposition, the National Super Alliance (NASA) condemned in the strongest possible terms the assassination of Msando and called for swift arrest of those involved.

“We express our profound sorrow to his wife, family and loved ones, as well as to all Kenyans who have been horrified by this heinous murder meant to subvert our democracy,” NASA said in a statement.

NASA said Msando’s brutal killing was an attempt to drive “a dagger into the heart of the forthcoming election, and indeed a dagger into the heart of Kenyan democracy. But we are totally confident that this terrible crime will accomplish the opposite and strengthen all Kenyans’ will to demand a free, fair and credible election.”

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