President William Ruto’s revelations of an alleged plot to kidnap and kill outgoing electoral commission chairman Wafula Chebukati during vote tallying in the August 9 polls has drawn the ire of the Opposition.
Ruto’s sentiments offered a peek into the behind-the-scenes happenings at Bomas which, according to him, involved the military and top security officials in a scheme to deny him victory.
In a speech on Tuesday which coincided with the exit from office of Chebukati and Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu, the President did not mince words on what he called an attempt to overturn the will of the people.
Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leaders, on the other hand, claim the electoral system was compromised. They claim that there was interference from the international community in favour of Ruto.
And now, Azimio la Umoja leaders are accusing the President of being all bark -and - no bite on the revelations that he continues to make on the attempt on Chebukati’s life.
They are now demanding a public inquiry to investigate election-related deaths since 2007.
National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi yesterday accused the President of trying to divert the attention of the public towards “non-issues” and questioned why with all the resources and powers at his disposal, he is merely making revelations and not acting on them.
Cost of living
“Kenyans really don’t care whether Chebukati was threatened or abducted. They care that Chebukati declared William Ruto President and now the President has failed to lower the cost of food, fuel, electricity, and school fees, among other matters of concern,” said Wandayi.
The Raila-led Azimio noted that, from his outbursts, the President had more than enough reasons to set up a professional and independent team of inquiry into the conduct of the August 2022 elections. Ruto on Tuesday said drama that broke out at Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, before the announcement of results and the subsequent emergence of break-away commissioners who disputed the results had been “sanctioned from the highest offices of the State.”
The Minority Leader challenged Ruto to make public the identities of the shadowy characters who are alleged to have plotted a coup in August albeit by following due process.
The opposition is further demanding the re-opening of the case into the brutal murder of former IEBC IT manager Chris Musando ahead of the 2017 election.
“If the President is so concerned that Chebukati was threatened with abduction and death, he needs to be reminded that Chris Musando was not just threatened. He was actually abducted and killed. We demand an immediate end to empty talk and the selective and vindictive process that the President has embarked on. Instead, we demand a transparent, professional, and inclusive public inquiry to assist the country and families determine the fate or whereabouts of members who disappeared or died, from 2007 to date,” said Wandayi.
He further demanded that Chebukati, Molu, and Guliye be made to record statements with the police on not only what really happened at the Bomas of Kenya but also on any transactions, deal-makings, and negotiations that transpired between them and any political actors, individually or jointly.
Meanwhile, former IEBC commissioner Roselyn Akombe criticised Chebukati and President Ruto. Akombe who resigned in 2017, took on the two on her social media pages yesterday. “Interesting that we can seek public inquiries on allegations of murder but not on actual murders,” she posted on Twitter.
Her sentiments came just hours after Chebukati revealed that the commission had written to Ruto seeking an inquiry in the process leading up to declaration of the final results at Bomas last year.
Chebukati had stated that 2022 saw attempts to undermine its independence and that such forces needed to be snipped.
The outgoing IEBC chairman argued that the commission’s independence was threatened through ethnic profiling, open threats to staff, abduction, and illegal detention of staff by state security at the Bomas of Kenya and in county and constituency tallying centers.
And in a press briefing yesterday, Jubilee Party Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni alleged that the outgoing IEBC team was involved in the manipulation of election results to deny Raila the presidency.
Kioni claimed that based on a report availed by a whistle-blower’s Organisation-Vanguard Africa – Ruto only garnered 5.9 million votes while Raila raked in 8 million votes.
“We as Azimio maintain that there was manipulation of results by Chebukati. What we have seen from the report is that 144 constituencies were altered with most of it happening in the Mt Kenya region,” he said, promising that Azimio’s top brass would give a way forward in the coming days.
Earlier, he had termed President Ruto’s sentiments on Chebukati’s attempted murder as “scary.” “When he came out yesterday and said you wanted to murder this person. That is very scary. You would want him to inform the agencies to deal with the information he receives not come and say it,” said Kioni
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, however, praised the President for making the revelations, saying Chebukati should be appointed to government.
“The outgoing IEBC chairman should be appointed to the government to continue serving Kenyans. He cannot be intimidated or blackmailed. He is a man with strong resolve he can’t be swayed. Some tried to sway him but they failed terribly in the last elections,” said Cherargei.
Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot also came to the defense of Chebukati.
“We need to amend the National Honours Act and set a specific category for heroes such as Chebukati. What he did was superhuman and should be celebrated as such,” he said.
Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina called for a public inquiry: “Mr President, to end all conspiracy theories and the talk on the IEBC debacles, let’s cut to the chase. Set up a commission of inquiry and extend it to cover the last two elections. People are glorifying Chebukati as if he is a saint.”
Political experts have also waded into the matter calling for reforms to ensure that the presidential contest is not a do-or-die affair.
“The sentiments by Ruto throw a spanner in the works on the credibility of the presidential elections. If Ruto cares about this country he should embark on reforms at electoral commission and he should do it with clean hands before the country is thrown into turmoil again,” said Prof Alfred Omenya.
Tom Mboya, a political observer, said the president should move beyond making accusations to investigating and prosecuting culprits.
“If there were issues with the 2022 elections, these can and should be referred to investigative agencies,” said Mboya.
Policy and Governance expert Vincent Kimosop called on the president to either initiate a public inquiry or decide to go the parliamentary select committee way in handling the issues around the August 2022 General Election.
“The best way of dealing with a crisis is dealing the very crisis…all the political players should learn from the happenings of the 2007/2008 post-election crisis,” said Kimosop.