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State wanted to abduct and murder Chebukati over results, says Ruto

President William Ruto. [PCS]

President William Ruto says there was an attempt to abduct and murder electoral commission chairman Wafula Chebukati during the August 9 General Election. 

He said in a bid to subvert the will of the people, the chairman was to be replaced with a compliant commissioner who would do “the system’s” bidding in exchange for rewards.

The attempt on Chebukati’s life was reportedly made as the country anxiously awaited the outcome of the presidential results and after numerous threats to his family and commissioners failed.

President Ruto spoke during a meeting with constitutional commissions and independent institutions, including the electoral agency at State House, Nairobi, on Tuesday, January 17.

On the last day in office for Chebukati and commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu after six years at the helm, Ruto lifted the lid on behind- the- scenes happenings at Bomas during vote tallying.

“We know that there was a direct attempt to abduct Wafula Chebukati and murder him so that the commission would be paralysed, or a compliant commissioner would take over and subvert the people’s sovereignty. It was a hard, cold and lonely time. The threats were dire, promised rewards lavish and the pressure relentless,” said Ruto.

The IEBC on August 15 declared UDA’s Ruto as President-elect after garnering 7,176,141 votes, beating his rival Azimio la Umoja One Kenya flagbearer Raila Odinga who had 6,942,930 votes.

The President blamed unnamed senior politicians, who he said had teamed up to manage the presidential succession, with a view to guaranteeing a specific outcome of the election.

A political mechanism, he claimed, was therefore instituted to facilitate this objective through the capture of autonomous constitutional bodies.

“In the case of the IEBC, this mechanism resolved to infiltrate the organisation by introducing at its highest level four commissioners whose sole task was to lie in wait for the election, then spring into action and take drastic actions to subvert the will of the people,” he said.

The president added: “Regrettably, IEBC officers were murdered in the course of duty by actors interested in compromising the elections. Many more were subjected to serious threats, coercion, intimidation, and all forms of pressure by emboldened agents of impunity.” 

‘Rebel’ officials

Ruto further revealed that the drama that broke out at Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, before the announcement of presidential results and the subsequent emergence of break-away commissioners who disputed the results, had been “sanctioned from the highest offices of the State.” 

He said there was a scheme to storm the tallying centre and use violence to alter vote tallies, as well as entice, bribe, force or threaten the IEBC chair to announce Rails the winner. Ruto heaped praise on Chebukati and his team for sticking to the rule of law by ensuring the will of the people prevailed.

“It takes a person who can stare death in the face, and nevertheless pursue the right course of action, to uphold, protect and defend our constitutional values and principles, and to enhance the legitimacy of our institutions. The IEBC had three such people. Even though they were in the minority, they were enough,” the president said.

He called on public servants to emulate the IEBC chairman as the country moves towards consultation and collaboration aimed at unlocking the full promise of Kenya’s constitutional dispensation. On Monday, Chebukati said IEBC had written to President Ruto seeking an inquiry into the process leading to the declaration of presidential election results.

Speaking during the launch of the post-election evaluation report at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi, he said the August 9, 2022, election saw great attempts to undermine its independence and usurp its powers.

Expressing no regrets on how he handled his tenure at the helm of IEBC, Chebukati concurred that the agency’s independence was threatened through ethnic profiling, open threats to commissioners, abduction and illegal detention of staff by State security at the Bomas of Kenya and in county and constituency tallying centres.