Statement on the Murder of Chris Msando

Nairobi, Kenya, 1 August 2017, Africa Centre for Open Governance

The apparent murder of Mr. Chris Msando, acting ICT director of the IEBC, is a deeply troubling development; particularly given that there are only seven days to go before the general election on the 8th of August, 2017. The timing of his torture and murder serves to undermine Kenya’s elections management body at this most crucial time in the work of the IEBC.

We send our deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Msando upon this most tragic and distressing murder. The loss is most deeply felt by the family, but all Kenyans of goodwill mourn with you.

While it is true that there is still so much that is unknown, pending investigations, there is plenty of reason to believe that this cruel and selfish act is related to the elections. Mr. Msando’s untimely death is tragedy in its own right; the circumstances in which it has happened makes it imperative that the security services expedite investigations as a matter of utmost urgency. This is a national emergency because of the potential dire consequences of what has happened, and just as importantly, what Kenyans all over this country believe has happened.

Let us be frank. A perusal of social media and an audit of the conversations happening on the media since the news of Mr. Msando’s death became public makes evident that many Kenyans believe elements within or close to the State to be responsible for this murder. Unfortunately, there is precedence in our collective memory that makes this credible. Kenya has an unfortunate history of assassinations for political expediency, and there is a chilling familiarity in the sequence of events – from the announcement of a missing person to the discovery of a mutilated body in inexplicable circumstances that makes it difficult to easily dismiss the sinking feeling that we have been here before. It is our determined hope that the government appreciates where this country is coming from, and the imperative to get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible given its potential to further destabilise an already tense nation.

Even as the investigation gets on its way, we remind the state of its duty to take whatever necessary measures it possibly can to secure the safety of the IEBC Commissioners and all its staff. An intimidated and fearful staff cannot fully deliver on its mandate or respect its oath to act without fear or favour in carrying out the important responsibilities it has been entrusted with by the citizens of Kenya.

Fellow Kenyans, we appeal to you as our compatriots to reject all intimidation and impunity that would keep you from your resolve to fulfil the covenant we have with each other as citizens with regard to our electoral responsibilities. Kenya is stronger than those who would seek to bring it to grief, so we join with all Kenyans of good will in calling for citizens to make every effort to confidently go out and vote on election day. Let us refuse to be intimidated and misled by the callous actions of those who wish Kenya ill.

May “Justice be Our Shield and Defender”, so that we may truly “dwell in Unity, Peace and Liberty”.