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How Wafula Chebukati, William Ruto intend to defend presidential poll petition

Politics
Chairman IEBC Wafula Chebukati presents a certificate to President-elect William Ruto that certifies his election at the Bomas of Kenya on Aug 15, 2022. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission will defend the presidential election results a divided house in the event that the petition is filed at the Supreme Court.

Four commissioners disowned the results declared by Chairman Wafula Chebukati and observers will be keen to see whether they will have a collective approach to their defence as happened during the 2017 petition. A lawyer who acted for the commission in the past petition said the division does not augur well for IEBC since it is likely to weaken their defence especially if the four commissioners decide to support the petition challenging the declaration of William Ruto as President-elect.

“It is not a good situation because we don’t know how they will assemble and organise themselves to defend the petition. The division will definitely make it difficult to have a common defence of the presidential electoral process,” said the lawyer.

IEBC Vice-Chairperson Juliana Cherera and Commissioners Francis Wanderi, Justus Nyangaya and Irene Masit disowned the results stating that the process was opaque and accused Chebukati of keeping them in the dark during the final tallying process. According to the commissioners, the final results did not meet the threshold of a legitimate presidential election since the final results lacked a critical ingredient of the total number of registered voters, the total number of votes cast, or the number of rejected ballots.

But Mr Chebukati defended the process and accused the four commissioners of attempting to force him to moderate the results and cause a run-off between Dr Ruto and Azimio la Umoja candidate Raila Odinga.

“Before the final declaration of the Presidential Election results, the four commissioners demanded that the chairperson moderates the results for purpose of forcing an election re-run, which was tantamount to subverting the Constitution,” said Chebukati.

The division is likely to affect the united front by IEBC in 2017 when they put up a spirited fight saying the elections were free, fair, accurate and verifiable. Apart from adopting the 2017 strategy when the commission brought copies of all the 53,000 Forms 34A, 34B and 34C used to declare the presidential results, they are also likely to defend themselves that they complied with the constitution and gave all agents opportunity to verify the results.

The commission will also likely defend the electronic system which they said is secure and reliable with security features that makes the system impossible to hack and manipulate the submitted results. Just like in the previous petition, the commission will insists that the final results were the accurate decision of Kenyans and that the election results were delivered within the stipulated time, and that security features in all the forms made it impossible to duplicate and inflate votes.

On the other hand, Dr Ruto will be expected to go flat-out to defend his victory while aware that he stands to lose it all and face another election should the Azimio la Umoja team convince the apex court of electoral malpractices. According to one of the United Democratic Alliance lawyers Adrian Kamotho, they are ready to defend Dr Ruto’s victory should it be challenged at the Supreme Court and have already put a team of senior lawyers on standby to take it up as soon as it is filed.

“We are just waiting for them to file, we are ready for them and ready to defend Dr Ruto’s win, which we believe was rightly obtained through a fair electoral process that complied with the Constitution,” said Kamotho.

The lawyer said they cannot speculate on their strategy to defend the case, but they will be guided by the issues which will be raised by the petitioners.