'Rebel' poll officials deny pushing to force a re-run

IEBC vice-chair Juliana Cherera, commissioners Justus Nyang’aya, Francis Wanderi and Irene Masit. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Four members of the electoral commission who contested the presidential results have denied plotting to force a presidential election re-run. 

Led by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) vice chairperson Juliana Cherera, commissioners Irene Masit, Francis Wanderi and Justus Nyang’aya, pushed back against claims by chairman Wafula Chebukati on Wednesday about their alleged intention to moderate election results. 

Mr Chebukati claimed the four had wanted him to declare that none of the four presidential candidates had obtained the required 50 per cent plus one vote threshold to be declared the winner.

But in a signed statement sent to newsrooms, they accused Chebukati of lying about their intentions and making decisions unilaterally. 

They, in turn, are accusing the chairman of unorthodox actions that turned the commission into a one-man show and which subverted the Constitution, electoral laws and the will of the people.

“At no time did the commission seek to moderate election results but rather requested that a proper verification as envisaged by the Constitution be carried out. Chebukati went ahead to unilaterally declare the results without any plenary verification whatsoever by all the commissioners and their participation as mandated by the Constitution and electoral laws,” they wrote.

The statement said the four commissioners insisted Chebukati tables the presidential results before the Plenary Commission for verification. But they said despite the commission bearing the power to verify the results, Chebukati denied them that opportunity.

Chebukati, they said, “clothed himself with autocratic powers and declined to avail the results for verification as duly required by law before the said results are announced.”

“He argued that there was no constitutional or legal basis for the commission’s involvement in supervising and verifying results received at the national tallying centre,” the statement said.

The moderation that Chebukati accused them of attempting to do, they said, was results verification and was actually their mandate.  

“Chebukati appears to have misconstrued his role and that of the commissioners and further misunderstood the constitutional and legal mandate to verify results by the commission to mean what he vaguely characterised as ‘moderation of those results,” they said.

Ms Cherera and her colleagues are further questioning the power Chebukati exercised to postpone elections in areas where they were not conducted on August 9.

IEBC had gazetted August 23 as the day it would hold elections for the governor of Mombasa and Kakamega counties. Others affected are various constituencies and wards.

“It is unknown how this decision was arrived at and with whom the chairman consulted as it came as a shock and was communicated without a sheer thread of consultation, meeting, or agreement with commissioners as required by law,” the statement added. On, Wednesday Chebukati accused the four commissioners of rejecting the presidential results, saying they wanted to force an election re-run. He claimed that after briefing the four on the results he was to announce, they asked him to moderate them so that the country could have a re-run.