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Cherera Four removal petition: Raila, Kalonzo, Karua present at JLAC hearing

The top leadership of Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya was present at County Hall in Nairobi on November 24, 2022 during the hearing of petitions seeking to remove from office four IEBC commissioners. [Emmanuel Too, Standard]

Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya’s top leadership on Thursday, November 24 arrived at the County Hall in Nairobi, where the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee of the National Assembly began hearing of petitions filed against four IEBC commissioners.

Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Martha Karua sat quietly in the mini-chambers as MPs laid the ground rules on how the hearings will be conducted.

Suna East MP Junet Mohamed asked JLAC to grant the four commissioners’ lawyers adequate time to make their submissions on behalf of the adversely mentioned commissioners.

The MPs were divided on whether the commissioners’ lawyers should be given at least five minutes per submission.

“Let’s take a vote as MPs to decide on how much time we’ll allocate the lawyers. We are only ten of us. If the members vote that the lawyers be given ten minutes each, we’ll work with that, if we vote that they be allocated five minutes each, we’ll agree to that,” said Majority Whip Sylvanus Osoro, who is also the MP for South Mugirango.

On Wednesday, Raila Odinga cancelled a press conference in which he was to address the plot by four petitioners seeking the removal of IEBC Vice-chairperson Juliana Cherera and three other commissioners from office.

Odinga had called journalists to the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation in Upper Hill, Nairobi at 2pm for the press conference, only to cancel the address at 2:20pm, which was past the scheduled time.

Four parties have petitioned the National Assembly seeking to have four break-away commissioners, led by Juliana Cherera, removed from office for allegedly attempting to change the will of the Kenyan voters in the August 9, 2022 presidential election.

The petitioners argue that Cherera, Irene Masit, Justus Nyang’aya and Francis Wanderi went against the official position of IEBC on presidential election results, a move they say amounts to gross misconduct and violation of the Constitution.

The National Assembly’s Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs has since summoned the four commissioners to appear before it on Monday, November 28 and Tuesday, November 29 in a staggered arrangement.

Raila Odinga said on Wednesday afternoon, November 23, that he cancelled his press conference on the four commissioners to allow the parliamentary process take place without external influence.

“To allow other processes currently underway with regard to summons to IEBC commissioners to proceed without prejudice, Raila Odinga will not address the subject as earlier announced. Our apologies for the cancellation,” Odinga’s communications director Dennis Onyango said in a subsequent statement.

The Republican Liberty Party, Reverend Dennis Thumbi, Geoffrey Langat and Steve Owuor argue in their respective petitions that the commissioners’ August 15, 2022 conduct, besides violating the Constitution, amounted to incompetence.

IEBC vice-chairperson Cherera has since moved to court to block the JLAC summonses.

Cherera and the three other IEBC commissioners on August 15 retreated to Serena Hotel from the Bomas of Kenya, the national tallying centre, where they said that IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati would declare presidential results that were processed in an “opaque and unverifiable” manner.

Chebukati shortly thereafter went ahead to announce that UDA candidate William Ruto had garnered 7.18 million votes (50.49 per cent) to secure victory against Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya candidate Raila Odinga, who got 6.94 million (48.85 per cent).