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

The Four suspended IEBC Commissioners. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

There is no escaping fate for the four electoral agency commissioners, suspended from office on Friday and are set to face a tribunal as the Kenya Kwanza coalition digs in despite resignation of a member of the quartet.

President William Ruto suspended Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) vice chairperson Juliana Cherera and fellow commissioners Francis Mathenge, Irene Masit and Justus Nyang'aya at the recommendation of the National Assembly, which found that four petitions against them for dissenting to the tallying of the August 9 presidential election met the threshold for a tribunal.

But Mr Nyang'aya resigned later the same day. He wrote a letter to President Ruto tendering his resignation as IEBC commissioner.

"In the last few weeks, I have had serious soul-searching and being a man of faith, prayed fervently so that I may have the wisdom to make a decision that is in the best interest of the country. We all agree that the best interest of the nation must always supersede our individual interest," he wrote. But if Nyang'aya opted to resign to spare himself from sitting through a tribunal rehashing the events of August 15, then, allies of Ruto say, he has the wrong idea.

In resigning, he was taking a route that has been suggested by many leaders allied to Ruto who saw it as the option out. Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said after Nyang'aya resignation became public that "all of them should resign."

At the tribunal, he tweeted, they would face the unimaginable.

Political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi holds the same view: That the commissioners should resign.

"The honourable thing for the 'Cherera Four' to do is to resign," he said. Some members of President Ruto's government say the commissioners will still be investigated even if they resign, a position which ties the four to the tribunal and the outcome it will give.

The tribunal, whose members have already been sworn into office, is chaired by judge Aggrey Muchelule. It is expected to prepare and submit a report and its recommendations to the President in a month.

Uasin Gishu Woman Rep Gladys Shollei argued that resignation did not mean the tribunal would not proceed with its probe. "Resignation cannot extinguish the duty of the tribunal constituted to investigate IEBC commissioners. The tribunal must discharge its duty to interrogate their conduct and report on the facts. Kenyans deserve to know why they engaged in grave misconduct during the last election," she said.

The inquest, another Ruto ally said, was not about punishing the commissioners as much as finding out what happened at Bomas during tallying.

"There were people involved in meddling with the tallying process and we need to know them. Kenyans need to know," he said. Members of the minority in Parliament have said the process was orchestrated to punish the commissioners for refusing to be part of a fraudulent election.

Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma questioned the haste of swearing in the tribunal, which was presided by Chief Justice Martha Koome on Friday. "How fast! It worries Kenyans when the Judiciary, which should be the bastion of human rights, appears to be in seamless consort with the Executive," he said.