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Ruto, Raila lock horns over fate of IEBC Four

ODM leader Raila Odinga (left) and President William Ruto. [File, Standard]

President William Ruto and Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga have clashed over the fate of four electoral agency commissioners, including vice chair Juliana Cherera

A tweet by President Ruto, in which he appeared to refer to Raila as a ‘lord of impunity’, was uncharacteristically confrontational.

“The lords of impunity, who destroyed oversight institutions using the handshake fraud, should allow Parliament to hold rogue officials who put the nation in danger by subverting the democratic will of the people, to account,” Ruto, who is on an official visit to South Korea, tweeted yesterday morning. “New order is RULE of LAW (sic) not wishes of big men.”

The tweet comes at a time when the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) has started hearing petitions filed by Dennis Ndwiga, the Republican Party, Geoffrey Langat and Owuor Steve, who accuse Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) vice chair and commissioners Francis Mathenge, Irene Masit and Justus Nyang’aya of violating the Constitution.

Should Parliament find that the petitions have merit, the four commissioners could be removed from office.

Ruto’s tweet did not sit well with Raila who dismissed the hearings as being done at the president’s behest with the intention of meddling with the 2027 election.

“There is due process and natural justice, things aren’t just done at the whims of the executive,” Raila responded. “The rule of law must prevail and not your jungle laws that you want to institute so as to subjugate Kenyans to a conveyor belt system of elections come 2027.” 

Raila and other Azimio leaders Martha Karua, Kalonzo Musyoka and Makau Mutua sat through the committee hearing in Parliament on Thursday.

“The country wants to move on, UDA is focusing on pushing out commissioners who did not agree with their chair. Being trivial, vindictive and vile and must be stopped since it will not end well,” Raila said later at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation in Nairobi.

Raila claimed under Ruto, the country has witnessed a “swift, steady and dangerous re-emergence of capture of State institutions.”

The Opposition leader then told the four commissioners to boycott summons before JLAC, saying Parliament was usurping the role of a tribunal as its role was limited to summoning petitioners and deciding whether issues raised warrant setting up of a tribunal.

Cherera and the three commissioners walked out of the National Tallying Centre at the Bomas of Kenya and disowned the results which they termed “opaque”.

“We are not able to take ownership of the results that will be announced,” she said.

Last week, at a meeting of the legislators elected to his coalition, Ruto gave the green light for the removal of the commissioners and yesterday posted the tweet in which he accused Raila of meddling in the affairs of Parliament.

Yesterday’s back and forth between Raila and Ruto sparked a frenzy of tweets from their supporters. 

By Agencies Jan. 27, 2023
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