Forget Cherera Four reinstatement, DP Rigathi Gachagua tells Raila Odinga

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua says President William Ruto lacks powers to rehire Juliana Cherera and three other IEBC commissioners. [File, Standard]

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has told off Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Party leader Raila Odinga over his demand on the reinstatement of four former IEBC commissioners.

The four ex-commissioners are Juliana Cherera (vice-chairperson), Francis Wanderi, Justus Nyang'aya and Irene Masit.

The four denounced the presidential results announced by retired IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati on August 15, 2022, saying Chebukati and two other commissioners - Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu - skewed the August 9, 2022 outcome in favour of President Ruto.

After Dr. Ruto was sworn into office on September 13, Cherera, Nyang'aya and Wanderi resigned, claiming the new administration was plotting their sacking.

Masit, who did not resign, was investigated by Justice Aggrey Muchelule tribunal, and her sacking recommended after the team found her guilty of gross misconduct in relation to the presidential results declaration.

President Ruto on March 1 gazetted Masit's dismissal.

Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya has been pushing for electoral reforms during their recent demonstrations against the government.

One of their demands to President Ruto is the immediate reinstatement of the ejected commissioners.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua now says that it is a pipe dream for Odinga to think that Ruto would reinstate Cherera, Nyang'aya, Wanderi and Masit.

Speaking at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) on Friday, March 31 during the commissioning of 3,900 interns joining the public service, Gachagua said Ruto has no constitutional powers to unilaterally rehire commissioners of independent agencies such as the IEBC.

"The president cannot reinstate the [four] IEBC commissioners, and he does not have the authority to do that. Additionally, there is no constitutional provision that provides room for a handshake arrangement," said Gachagua.

Odinga, in a past interview on KTN, insisted that one of the conditions for him to call off the weekly demos is that the State reinstates Cherera and her three colleagues.

"Ruto says he is not ready for talks. Four commissioners of the IEBC, whose terms had not even ended, were unfairly removed from office. They must be reinstated with full benefits," Odinga said on February 28.

Another of his demand to the government, is that the opposition fronts representatives to the IEBC commissioners' selection panel.

"We must sit down as stakeholders and talk about the electoral commission," he said, claiming that the selection panel as currently constituted would hold brief for President Ruto, hence an uneven playground ahead of 2027 polls.

Speaking on Friday during the commissioning of the government interns, President Ruto accused Odinga of using violence to air his grievances.

Odinga has held major demos for the second consecutive week now - on March 20, March 27 and March 30 - in Nairobi and other parts of the country.

"The Constitution allows divergent opinion, but it does not allow us to cause chaos, destroy property and lead to loss of lives," Ruto said at the KICC.