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IEBC under siege as political rivals push demands

COUNTIES
By Vincent Achuka and Jacob Ngetich | September 23rd 2017
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati (Left) and Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba during a press brief on the voter security at the IEBC offices in Nairobi . Photo by WILLIS AWANDU

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has found itself under siege as the ripple effects of the ruling that nullified the presidential election continue to gather storm.

As the clock ticks towards the end of the constitutional 60-day period within which a fresh election has to be held, clouds of doubt continue to gather on whether the poll will be held on time.

 So far, every manoeuvre by the commission to re-establish public confidence has either been disapproved by the opposing sides in the presidential contest or fallen flat on its face due to internal wrangling.

The resignation of IEBC’s Director of Legal and Public Affairs Praxedes Tororey has further heightened fears of a commission in the middle of a storm and unable to clear its name because of internal turmoil.

Tororey is among the six officials NASA has accused of electoral malpractices and demanded their prosecution. IEBC communications manager Andrew Limo however downplayed her resignation.

Terminal leave

“She has proceeded on a two-month terminal leave from Thursday after which she will go into her retirement,” Limo said.

Others on the NASA chopping board include CEO Ezra Chiloba, Head of Operations Betty Nyabuto, Voter Registration and Electoral Operations Director Immaculate Kasait, Commissioner Yakub Guliye and ICT Director James Muhati, who was suspended on Wednesday together with ICT Coordinator Paul Mugo and ICT officer Boniface Wamae.

But the Saturday Standard understands the three are still reporting to work, raising questions on who exactly is in charge at the IEBC.

In a television talk show on Thursday night, NASA Chief Executive Officer Norman Magaya accused the commission of working under the direction of the State. “We all know why the chairman (Chebukati) says something and it is reversed the next day. It is because the IEBC is an extension of the executive,” he said.

Of concern is the perceived infiltration of the IEBC by political machinery from both Jubilee and NASA, which has created an image crisis for the commission and it seems completely unable to untangle itself from political influence.

Jubilee wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keriako Tobiko disputing NASA’s calls to have some IEBC officials prosecuted for their role in bungling the August election.

The ruling party asked the DPP to prosecute some NASA leaders for “admitting” they had access to the commission’s servers during the election period.

Quoting the Supreme Court judgement, Jubilee, through secretary general Raphael Tuju said: “It is clear that no criminal investigations are warranted against the IEBC commissioners or officials.

“We would draw your attention to the fact that by a letter dated 10th August 2017, two of NASA’s members, Hon Musalia Mudavadi and Hon James Orengo, informed IEBC’s Chairman Wafula Chebukati that they had secretly and surreptitiously obtained information of the actual presidential election results contained in the IEBC servers from what they called confidential IEBC sources.”

Even before the ink on Tuju’s letter had dried, NASA supporters marched to the DPP’s office to present a petition asking for the investigation of key IEBC officials they want charged for criminal intent that resulted in the bungling of the August poll.

NASA insists that the declaration that the polls were marred by irregularities and illegalities is sufficient enough to warrant criminal charges.

“The decision of the Supreme Court did not exonerate any member of the Commission of any personal criminal liability in respect of the irregularities and illegalities,” said a letter the coalition sent to the DPP.

“Our express instructions are that the Commissioners and members of the Secretariat not only committed criminal acts of which they should be held personally responsible, but also aided and abetted the commission of offences under the Elections Offences Act, the Public Procurement Act, the Elections Act and breaches of the Constitution,” said NASA’s lawyer Anthony Oluoch.

NINE DEMANDS

The charging and firing of the officials is part of the nine demands NASA has said have to be met before it accepts to sit with the IEBC to discuss modalities on how the October 26 election will be held. 

NASA’s demands are part of the reason the IEBC has been unable to hold a meeting with the Opposition or Jubilee for the last three weeks. This has crippled preparations for the repeat election, inching the country closer to a constitutional crisis.

“It is becoming clearer by the day that the conditions will not be met, so election cannot happen,” said NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga. “Which president does not care that the IEBC doesn’t want to obey the orders of the court? He wants Kenyans to head to another fraudulent election as long as it is designed to aid him to win.”

 

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