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Bitter end: Wafula Chebukati attacked as chaos mar Bomas briefing

Security officers rescued the chairperson of the electoral commission Wafula Chebukati. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The lectern was the first to go, followed by the chairs and table.

As Bomas of Kenya descended into anarchy, security officers rescued the chairperson of the electoral commission, two commissioners, and the chief executive.

Wafula Chebukati would emerge shaken, moments later, to announce the presidential election results. He was alone; his three colleagues had been injured in the melee and were being treated.

Yesterday, just before Chebukati was to announce the winner of the election, chaos broke out at Bomas. Before things went wrong, there was a lot of tension at the venue.

Azimio la Umoja leaders who had arrived at Kenya’s national tallying centre left their seats and held a press conference outside the auditorium, protesting that the process had been compromised and that they would not accept the results. They claimed they were unable to reach Chebukati to express their concerns about the vote tallying.

Raila’s chief agent, Saitabao ole Kanchori, and other Azimio leaders, including James Orengo and Anyang Nyong’o, demanded to see and verify the presidential results before alerting Raila to proceed to Bomas for the announcement of the presidential results.

In a press conference, Saitabao stated that the Azimio coalition’s top brass had yet to receive the form 34C containing the election results, which was required prior to the announcement of the results.

He said Chebukati had remained silent and had avoided meeting with Azimio agents. He also said widespread irregularities marred the electoral process.

“We have intelligence reports that their (IEBC) system was penetrated and hacked, and that some IEBC officials actually committed electoral offences and should have been arrested,” Saitabao said. The leaders later dispersed in preparation for the Chebukati address, which was originally scheduled for 3pm but would take place a few minutes to 6pm.

The chaos began when Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina and Azimio la Umoja’s chief agent Kanchory approached the dais, where Chebukati and IEBC CEO Hussein Marjan, as well as commissioners Boya Molu and Abdi Guliye, were escorted.

The three commissioners had just taken their seats when they were approached by Orengo, Ole Kina, and  Saitabao. Orengo and Ole Kina shouted down at Chebukati and in the faces of police officers attempting to defuse the situation.

More Azimio supporters rushed onto the dais after overpowering the security officers. Gladys Wanga, the newly elected governor of Homa Bay, led the baying mob, climbing over the table and chairs as she charged at Chebukati and the commissioners. Chebukati fled for safety, but the melee injured his commissioners and staff.

Ole Kina threw the microphone away, while others threw the microphone stand, tables, and chairs. Diplomats and international election observers were escorted out of the tallying hall before Chebukati could speak.

All the while, Saitabao, who has claimed without providing evidence that election rigging occurred, was waving his hand to the crowd, indicating that they would not allow the IEBC to announce the results.

As Azimio supporters vandalised property, throwing the lectern and chairs from the dais and more than 10 feet to the auditorium floor, security officers whisked the IEBC team away through an emergency exit.

The Azimio team was then removed from the venue by police officers and riot police amid protests as they continued flinging chairs.

The choir kept the crowd entertained while Kenya Kwanza supporters remained calm. Kenya Kwanza, now certain of their victory, took it upon themselves to reset the podium. Millicent Omanga set the table and chairs.

Chebukati was accompanied by armed guards when he returned to the venue to announce the results. Following that, Ruto, his wife Rachael, and running mate Rigathi Gachagua appeared on the now-restored podium.