IEBC now lacks quorum to conduct any business

From left, IEBC commissioners Paul Kurgat, Margaret Mwachanya and vice chairpeson Consolata Maina when they announced their resignations yesterday. [George Njunge, Standard]
Following the resignation of three top officials yesterday, the electoral commission does not have the quorum to conduct any business.

The exit of Vice Chairperson Connie Maina and commissioners Paul Kurgat and Margaret Mwachanya and last year's resignation of Roselyne Akombe has crippled the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Matters might be compounded further after politicians demanded that the remaining three officials also leave.

They threatened to drag the remaining three officials through a tribunal if they did not leave voluntarily.

SEE ALSO :Chebukati: Chiloba fought commissioners on tenders

Among the issues that could be hobbled by the resignations are post-election review, boundary delimitation, approval of the commission's budget, any by-election, and recruitment of senior staff.

The infighting at IEBC comes only months after last year's disputed presidential election that the commission oversaw in spite of boardroom wars.

Individual glory

In a statement, the three commissioners accused the chairman, Wafula Chebukati, of turning the commission into a space for 'scrambling and chasing individual glory and credit'.

"With the deteriorating mistrust at the commission, we feel that our position as commissioners is no longer tenable and we regret to tender our resignations with immediate effect,” the three said in the statement read by Ms Mwachanya.

SEE ALSO :Chebukati 'awarded his law firm IEBC contracts'

“For far too long and way too many times, the commission chair has failed to be the steady and stable hand that steers the ship in difficult times and give direction when needed,” Mwachanya told journalists at a city hotel.

She added: “Instead, under Chebukati’s leadership, the commission boardroom has become a venue for peddling misinformation, grounds for brewing mistrust and a space for scrambling and chasing individual glory and credit”.

The fallout stemmed from Chebukati's decision to send CEO Ezra Chiloba on compulsory leave last week. Chebukati was supported by commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu.

The three commissioners, who had opposed Chiloba's suspension, said the way the decision to send him home was arrived at was 'irregular and illegal'.

Weighty matter

SEE ALSO :Former IEBC commissioners throw Chebukati under the bus

"The removal of a CEO is a weighty matter that could not have been introduced as a by-the-way during the meeting. The chairman could have waited for an appropriate time - when all the commissioners are in the country - to properly call a sitting to deliberate on the matter,” they said.

The statement added: “The institution has continued to be dysfunctional with arbitrary decision-making, leaking of internal documents to serve personal goals, and pursuing of personal interests, all of which are against the laid down laws that govern the conduct of the commission leadership and staff.”

Chebukati said he could not comment on the latest development since he had not been briefed.

Media reports

“I learnt from media reports that my commissioners, Ms Nkatha Maina, Amb (Dr)) Paul Kurgat and Ms Margret Mwachanya, have resigned today. I am yet to receive formal communication on this matter. The commission will give a comprehensive statement at an appropriate time,” he said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen piled pressure on Chebukati and the two remaining commissioners to either voluntarily quit or be forced out.

“Chebukati, Molu & Guliye MUST resign from IEBC within the next 7 days or we form a tribunal to investigate them,” Murkomen said in a tweet.

He added: "My call for IEBC commissioners to resign is informed by recent wrangles linked to the fight for tenders plus control and manipulation of IEBC staff.”

Latest developments

Senate Minority Leader James Orengo described the resignations as a symptom of an 'incurable and cancerous disease' that bedevilled IEBC, claiming that the latest developments undermined the legitimacy of the Jubilee administration and confirmed that last year’s polls were an electoral fraud.

“Chebukati must now lead other commissioners out of IEBC by tendering his resignation letter together with those remaining commissioners and the secretariat. Otherwise the country will go through a political circus around an issue which has tremendous and significant constitutional importance,” Mr Orengo said.

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