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Ex-IEBC commissioner Akombe returns three years after fleeing

By Hillary Kimuyu February 17th, 2021 2 min read

Roselyn Akombe has made a return to the country three years after she fled citing threats to her life.

The former Independent Electoral and Boundaries (IEBC) commissioner returned to Nairobi on Tuesday. She’s since shared her gratitude on social media.

“Nothing beats the feeling of being home Kenya, where my umbilical cord remains. Thanks a million to all who made it possible. I owe you a lot!” she wrote on Twitter.

Before fleeing, Akombe, a Kenyan-born naturalized American citizen, had expressed her frustrations at the endless calls and hate-mails that were being sent to her bosses at the UN by some Kenyan officials both in the US and back at home who wanted her sacked for allegedly ‘betraying’ her country.

She fled the country to the US in October 2017 and resigned as a commissioner citing intimidation and lack of transparency in the contested 2017 presidential elections which were nullified by the Supreme Court of Kenya.

Akombe resumed her job at the UN but with a caveat — not to talk to the press about the Kenyan elections.

She later released a statement in the US saying she’d received numerous threats and that she “didn’t feel safe” in Kenya.

After her resignation, in a wide-ranging interview with the Nation in New Jersey, Akombe said political interference in the work of the IEBC had rendered the electoral body so dysfunctional that any hope of the commission carrying out credible elections that had been scheduled was non-existent.

Citing frustrations from fellow commissioners and senior secretariat staff, the former commissioner painted a picture of a statutory body that was not just at war with itself but also one that had become a poster child for political interference.

“The commissioners can’t agree on anything and if they did, chances are that the decisions made would be ignored by the secretariat. In the end, you end up going round and round without making any meaningful decisions,” she said.

In January, she took to social media and revealed that she was leaving her US job after landing another role.

In a statement she posted on her social media platforms, Akombe who’s been working as the Chief of Policy at the Policy and Mediation Division, Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs at the United Nations in New York expressed excitement over her new assignment.

As per the details shared in her post, she will be based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as the Governance and Peacebuilding Africa Coordinator at the Regional Hub under (UNDP).

“After 14 years on the political side of the @UN family, glad to switch to my other passion –development. Thrilled to join @UNDP today as the Governance & Peacebuilding Africa Coordinator at the Regional Hub in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Here is to new beginnings” read her tweet.