ODM abandons bid to oust Chebukati team

POLITICS |

ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna during a media briefing on fuel prices and IEBC on September 16, 2021. [David Gichuru,Standard]

ODM has abandoned plans to push for the ouster of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati and two commissioners after members failed to reach consensus on the matter.

The party had vowed to ensure Mr Chebukati, commissioners Boya Molu and Abdi Guliye do not oversee the 2022 General Election.

Sources told The Standard that ODM leader Raila Odinga was not keen to pursue the matter, a position that was also held by some party members. “It was not a unanimous decision among party members. There are those who wanted the three to go home and others who felt they should be allowed to conduct the next election. The party leader was also not keen on the matter,” disclosed the source.

ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna announced that they had abandoned the push to kick out the IEBC team.

Earlier, some ODM MPs had said they had no confidence in the team handling the 2022 polls after the Supreme Court nullified the 2017 presidential results, citing irregularities and illegalities.

The ouster plan came to the fore after a number of legislators, led by Homa Bay Women Representative Gladys Wanga, hit out at the three commissioners during a burial in Homa Bay County last month, asking them to suspend all activities relating to the elections.

Mr Sifuna yesterday disowned the scheme to remove Chebukati, Mr Molu and Prof Guliye from IEBC, saying, at Chungwa House, that ODM had not declared its position on the trio’s continued stay at the IEBC. “Party positions are not communicated in burials. They are communicated here,” said Sifuna, adding: “If Chebukati can assure free and fair elections, there is no need to remove him. We have no personal problem with anyone in IEBC. All we hope for is that they conduct credible polls,” he said.

Sifuna spoke after a meeting with Raila and grassroots leaders from Turkana County. Raila later met Japan Ambassador to Kenya Horie Ryoichi.

Sifuna’s remarks contradicted some MPs who had vowed to push for removal of Chebukati, Molu and Guliye once the IEBC was fully constituted.

ODM chairman John Mbadi (Suba South), Mrs Wanga, Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town MP), Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) and Senator Fred Outa (Kisumu) had called for ouster of the IEBC team. “Chebukati presided over a presidential election that was nullified by the Supreme Court. This is the first presidential poll to be overturned in Africa. Chebukati is still at the helm of the electoral agency… I really fear if Chebukati still heads the polls body,” Wanga had said.

Mr Wandayi, who also doubles up as the Public Accounts Committee chairperson, called for audit of operations of IEBC and halting of election materials’ tendering process.

Pressure from outside forces – including opposition from erstwhile Raila allies in the defunct NASA – could have also influenced the ODM’s decision. Religious leaders had also urged ODM to shelve the plot.

ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi last month castigated ODM for calling for Chebukati’s ouster. “Free and fair elections can only be achieved by ensuring the independence of IEBC. People should be guaranteed a free and fair election without intimidation,” said Mudavadi.

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Ford-Kenya youth leaders criticised ODM over the same.

ODM’s change of heart will be a relief to Chebukati team that has fought off attacks on their integrity.

bowino@standardmedia.co.ke

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