DP Ruto: IEBC personnel arrests part of plan to influence poll outcome

Deputy President William Ruto. [File, Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto has alleged that the government is blackmailing the IEBC into favouring Raila Odinga in the upcoming presidential election.

Speaking in Kitengela, Kajiado County on Saturday, July 23, the deputy president said the arrests of IEBC personnel at the JKIA on Thursday, July 21 indicate the State’s determination to coerce IEBC into favouring Raila’s presidential bid.

Ruto, however, did not produce any evidence supporting his allegations.

“They arrested IEBC personnel to pile pressure on the commission to use a manual register during the August 9 polls,” Ruto said.

“They’re also compromising the technology that has been put in place to ensure vote protection,” he added.

Ruto said Raila Odinga-led Azimio la Umoja outfit has “sensed defeat” in the upcoming polls, hence the arrests of IEBC contractees, which he termed arbitrary.

“I’m urging the Azimio la Umoja team to stop fighting the IEBC, stop fighting [IEBC chairperson Wafula] Chebukati, stop fighting people hired to help the IEBC roll out technology.

“You’re competing against us, and we are ready to battle it out with you. Leave the IEBC alone.”

According to Ruto, the IEBC personnel arrests form part of the plot to ensure the August 9 polls are postponed.

“The Azimio group is engaging in blackmail because they’ve realised they don’t have enough votes to win the presidential election. There’s no possibility of postponing the election, even by a date. The polls will be held on August 9, 2022,” said Ruto.

Ruto asked President Kenyatta to rein in on police officers, who he accused of being used to push for a Raila bid.

“I’m urging the president, who is my friend, not to allow police officers to be used in oppressing the IEBC. As the president, you have the responsibility of ensuring that the elections are free and fair,” said Ruto, adding: “Mr President, we’ll defeat your project (Raila).”

The IEBC personnel arrests fiasco escalated on Friday night, when the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) denied allegations that the IEBC contractees, including a Venezuelan national, had been ordered to report to the anti-terrorism police unit on Tuesday, July 26.

The statement came after the IEBC alleged harassment by the State, claiming that the commission’s personnel had been ordered to disclose passwords of the electronic gadgets that they were in possession of upon arrival at JKIA.

The IEBC personnel, who are said to be employees of technology Smartmatic, have been contracted to roll out technology during the polls.

They were in possession of stickers that are meant to assist the commission label and distribution of election materials to various constituencies across the country.