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IEBC to verify push to remove Taita Taveta leadership

By Geoffrey Mosoku | October 31st 2019

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission's (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati (right) flanked by Kennedy Kihara (left) Principal Administrative Secretary/Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet when Kihara presented Chebukati with collected signatures from Taita Tavata at the IEBC's offices, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina,Standard] .

President Uhuru Kenyatta has moved closer to appointing a tribunal to determine if the Taita Taveta County Government will be dissolved following constant wrangles.

President Kenyatta, who received a petition from residents led by Governor Granton Samboja, has now asked the electoral body to determine if the petitioners are genuine voters.

Yesterday, the Office of the President (OP) forwarded a list of signatures to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for verification.

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati said if the petitioners are found to be among the 155,716 registered voters, the documents will be returned to Uhuru for further action.

“Depending on the availability of money, the exercise will take at least five days,” Mr Chebukati said while receiving the documents from OP’s Principal Administrative Secretary Kennedy Kihara in Nairobi.

The IEBC boss said the agency would check only the names of the petitioners against their ID numbers, and would not consider the appended signatures because it does not have a repository of signatures for comparison.

The law states that if 10 per cent of registered voters petition the President, he has to appoint a commission of inquiry to determine the veracity of their claims.

“If the signatures are about 15,000, which is 10 per cent of the voters, then the next course will be taken,” Mr Kihara said.

Chosen afresh

It has been nearly three months since Mr Samboja started collecting signatures after a row with ward representatives over a Sh5.6 billion budget for the 2019-20 financial year.

“MCAs have stood in the way and the county government failed to pass the budget estimates on time. They have increased the department allocations by a uniform 10 per cent. The MCAs are demanding Sh41.6 million in each ward, which means we will be forced to disburse up to Sh830 million. This is 15 per cent of the total budget estimates, which is against what the law provides at 3 per cent,” said Samboja on July 2 when he kick-started the exercise.

He added: “I think the best gift we can give to the people of Taita Taveta is to go back for elections so that we are chosen afresh."

In September 2015, President Kenyatta overruled the recommendations of a commission of inquiry that recommended the suspension of the troubled Makueni County Government, saving it from going down in history as the first county administration to be dissolved.

The President said the reasons advanced by the Mohammed Nyaoga-led commission did not constitute "exceptional and extraordinary circumstances to meet the threshold set in the Constitution".

The President noted that while the commission's report had outlined issues affecting the running of the county government, they did not constitute justifiable grounds "to extinguish an elected government".

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