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'Cherera Four' wanted to force polls runoff, say former officials

The 'Cherera four': Former IEBC Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera, former commissioners Francis Wanderi and Justus Nyangaya and Commissioner Irene Masit. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

Former IEBC Commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu told the tribunal how their four dissenting colleagues tried to subvert the will of Kenyans by pushing for alteration of the presidential results.

Prof Guliye and Molu told the Justice Aggrey Muchelule-led tribunal that former IEBC Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera, former commissioners Francis Wanderi and Justus Nyangaya and Commissioner Irene Masit were against former IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati declaring the final tally of the presidential results.

The duo who appeared before the tribunal in Nairobi on Monday said the seven commissioners were working well before they split when Chebukati insisted that he will abide by the Constitution in declaring the new President. “Members of the National Security Advisory Council (NSAC) and three senior citizens had visited the Bomas of Kenya in the wee hours on August 15 last year where they told IEBC Commissioners that the country will burn if William Ruto was declared President,” said Guliye.

NSAC advisory

They told the tribunal that Masit, Cherera, Wanderi and Nyangaya insisted that Chebukati should adhere to the advisory issued by NSAC and have the presidential results moderated to show there was no outright winner and force a runoff.

Guliye said they felt that they were being pushed towards a certain direction by the senior government officials who told them that the blood of Kenyans would be on their hands if they failed to heed their request not to declare Ruto the winner.

He said they were told if it was difficult to declare Raila Odinga as President they should just ensure the two leading presidential candidates go for a runoff to get a clear winner since the presidential election result appeared close.

“When members of the National Security Advisory Council visited us at Bomas at 3am on August 15 last year, the winner of the presidential election had not been declared yet they were telling us we should be aware that the commission does not operate in a vacuum,” said Guliye.

The former commissioner said the Commission CEO Hussein Marjan gave each of the seven commissioners the summary presidential results which indicated that President Ruto had won the election and it became clear that this was against the expectations of Cherera, Masit, Wanderi and Nyangaya.

Guliye was particular that Masit and Wanderi pushed for the moderation of the results and ensure a runoff between Ruto and Raila at the very least arguing that the country would be stable with the two leading presidential candidates squaring it out and a clear winner emerged.

Declare results

He said Chebukati insisted that subversion of the will of the people will not form part of their discussion and he would go ahead to declare the official results as presented to him and that is when they stood to leave the boardroom but Cherera, Masit, Wanderi and Masit remained.

Guliye told the tribunal that they met the Chief Agents of the four presidential candidates and gave them a summary of the presidential results promising to give them a printed and soft copy version of the results later after which Raila’s agent Saitabau Kanchory rejected the results.

“Kanchory, who was Raila’s chief agent stormed out and went to the Bomas auditorium where he mobilised Azimio supporters, inciting them against IEBC commissioners and vowed to reject the declaration of William Ruto as President,” he said.

He added that they were surprised to see Cherera, Nyangaya, Wanderi and Masit addressing the press at the Serena Hotel where they disputed the presidential results announced by Chebukati in what appeared like a pre-planned meeting.

Guliye said he was to announce presidential results from the remaining constituencies but he was unable to because of the fracas witnessed at the auditorium in Bomas of Kenya immediately Chebukati walked in to declare the official results forcing them to scamper for safety.

Advocate Donald Kipkorir representing Masit asked the former commissioner to reveal where he took refuge after the presidential results were declared but he declined. The advocate wondered why he revealed where his client sought refuge yet he was unwilling to say where he went to.

Molu told the tribunal he was in charge of the Media Centre while Masit was in charge of legal affairs and she was not present when the presidential results were declared since she had joined Cherera, Wanderi and Nyangaya at Serena Hotel.

'Uncomfortable with the outcome'

“IEBC CEO Marjan Hussein gave each of the commissioners the official presidential results and it became very clear to the rest of us that Cherera, Wanderi, Nyangaya and Masit were uncomfortable with the outcome and wanted the results changed,” said Molu.

Advocate Danstan Omari appearing for Azimio sought to be enjoined in the tribunal but Justice Muchelule told him his case would be reviewed and he will receive communication during today’s sittings.

Omari told journalists he was under instruction to represent Azimio since the coalition had been adversely mentioned during the tribunal hearings.

The advocate said he will be seeking to be told why Chebukati allowed strangers at Bomas with allegations that they had come to seek the alteration of the results of the presidential election results.

“We would like to know if there is anything Chebukati sought from the people he met in order to declare the presidential results in a particular way,” said Omari.

He said the opposition coalition will be out to prove that the alleged goons at Bomas who were out to disrupt the announcement of the presidential election results were not its members.

The tribunal will continue with its hearings today with Chebukati and National Cohesion and Integration Commission chairperson Samuel Kobia expected to appear.