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Bomas affair: Chebukati calls for an inquiry


Wafula Chebukati said the IEBC’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, Nairobi and in county and constituency tallying centres. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Electoral commission chairperson Wafula Chebukati yesterday said the agency has written to President William 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, Chebukati said the August 9, 2022, General Election saw great attempts to undermine its independence and usurp its powers.

He said the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’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, Nairobi and in county and constituency tallying centres.

“The gravity of these attempts to subvert the will of the people cannot be wished away or swept under the carpet because they might re-emerge in the future,” said Chebukati. 

The IEBC chairman expressed optimism that the outcome of the inquiry will bolster the independence of the commission and ensure it maintains the stature contemplated in the constitution.

Commissioner Abdi Guliye recounted how he was forced to flee and hide with his colleague Boya Molu and CEO Marjan Hussein following the declaration of the presidential results.

“We had to put off our phones, leave them at Bomas, send away our security and ride to an unknown location,” said Prof Guliye.

He admitted that his stay at the commission was one of trials and tribulations which affected his family.

Despite the electoral agency having an approval rating of 63 per cent, Guliye said he has no regrets.

“I am satisfied that I did my best for my country and my people. I leave IEBC stronger and better than I found it. I have no apologies to make to anybody,” said the IEBC commissioner.

Molu called on Parliament to be vigilant when selecting the next commissioners arguing that the role is not one for the “faint-hearted” and that MPs should choose wisely. 

“My word of advice to those who will replace us is that the IEBC office is not for the faint-hearted. Parliament, as you vet the commissioners, ensure the commission is not populated by political stooges,” said Molu.

Speaking during his last official assignment as IEBC chairperson before he exits today after a six-year tenure, Chebukati said his team has put in place structures that he wishes the incoming commission can enrich.

He said the commission set up 30 new county offices from the initial 17 so as to operate from all 47 counties and appointed 290 senior election officers in each constituency.

“We also found an institution that did not have policies and procedures and so we set out to establish policy manuals and standard operating procedures to address systemic challenges within the commission’s systems and operations,” said Chebukati.

Addressing dignitaries present including Attorney General Justin Muturi and Members of Parliament, the IEBC chairperson urged Parliament to adopt legislative proposals presented in form of amendments to help the commission in executing its mandate.

Chebukati asked MPs to ensure the laws are enacted at least a year before the next election.

The laws include the IEBC Amendment Bill, 2020 and the Election Campaign Financing (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The report also calls on Parliament to operationalise the two-thirds gender rule. IEBC took pride in expanding the diaspora vote from the initial five countries - all in Africa- in 2017 to 12 countries worldwide, in the 2022 general election.

The report sought to establish what worked, what did not work, the lessons learnt and to make recommendations for future elections.

The recommendations include the appointment of IEBC commissioners at least two years before the general election, integration of voter education curriculum in the syllabus, operationalising mechanisms for special voting and enhancing collaboration with the Registrar of Political Parties and Parliament.

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