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Juliana Cherera and Irene Masit fled for dear life, Raila claims

 Former Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners Juliana Cherera and Irene Masit. [File, Standard]

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has said that two former commissioners of the electoral agency have since fled the country, fearing for their lives.

On the day Kenya was marking the first anniversary of the events of August 15, 2023, at the Bomas of Kenya, the Azimio la Umoja leader on Tuesday claimed the two former commissioners could not feel safe here.

At the burial of Brian Muendo, 18, a victim of alleged police brutality during July anti-government demonstrations, Raila claimed Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) former commissioners Irene Masit and Juliana Cherera had fled the country.

The two, alongside commissioners Justus Nyang’aya and Francis Wanderi had opposed chairman Wafula Chebukati’s announcement of presidential election results, which declared William Ruto the fifth president. 

On that day, Cherera, Masit, Nyang’aya and Wanderi broke off and addressed the nation from Serena hotel, declaring the results which were about to announced in Bomas as opaque and incapable of earning their confidence and trust.

“As I speak here, Irene Masit and Juliana Cherera have gone into hideouts in a foreign country because they were about to be eliminated. We must access these servers so that going forward we can know if Kenyans cast their votes, elect leaders, it is the same people they voted for will be announced as winners,” Raila said yesterday.

Our efforts to reach the two former commissioners were futile. Masit’s lawyer Donald Kipkorir had also not confirmed or denied the claims by the time of going to press.

Three of the four - Cherera, Nyang’aya and Wanderi - opted to resign when a tribunal was appointed to probe their conduct. Masit however opted to face the tribunal to clear her name, represented by Kipkorir.

Tied to their fate? 'Cherera Four' to face tribunal

In March when the tribunal chaired by Justice Aggrey Muchelule returned the sack verdict, President Ruto immediately degazetted her on the first of the 30 days accorded to him to do so. 

At Muendo’s burial in Makasa village, Azimio leaders reiterated the quest for electoral justice, saying the act of the four commissioners denouncing the results de-legitimised Ruto’s government.

Raila rebuked Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s analogy of Kenya as a “company” where those who voted them into office possessed more shares than those in opposition.

“In Kenya Revenue Authority, we have seen people employed to fill vacancies and a certain tribe has taken 60 per cent of the positions and the rest of the tribes scrambled for the remaining 40 per cent. This is wrong as all Kenyans are paying taxes,” he said.

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka who is leading the Azimio side in the negotiation table, said they mean business in the bipartisan talks and they will not leave any stone unturned.

“I have told our friends on the other side, like stealing elections, we must put all cards on the table openly and discuss. Kenya is no-one’s company and we will stay put,” he said.

Makueni Governor Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, who hosted the leaders termed the killing of the young man unfortunate calling justice for the family. “I hope the people who are sitting in the talks will remember the life of Brian, that student who wanted to go to university and build a house for his mother and that this house Brian wanted was the entire Kenya which is peaceful and with love,” he said.

Other leaders present included Eugene Wamalwa, Wycliffe Oparanya, Mwangi wa Iria, George Wajackoyah, Jeremiah Kioni, Daniel Maanzo, Rose Museo, Jessica Mbalu and Nzambia Kithua.

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