Divisions among the commissioners and the IEBC secretariat are looming after the IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati disowned any irregularities committed during the just concluded election, of which the Supreme Court has annulled the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Issuing a press statement, Chebukati noted that while the voting and counting process had no issues, the biggest problem lay with the transmission of results, for which the secretariat was responsible.
“We particularly note that the focus on the decision is on the transmission of the presidential results. This therefore means that there were no aspersions cast on the voting and counting and that the sovereign will of the Kenya people was fully respected,” said Chebukati.
“It is worth noting that the new commissioners took office seven months ago, without any changes made to the secretariat. To protect the sovereign will of the Kenyan people the commission intents to make internal changes to our personnel and processes as we prepare for the fresh presidential election in sixty days,” he added.
This might put the secretariat and the commissioners at loggerheads, with the former feeling that the Chebukati-led commissioners are abandoning them at a time the National Super Alliance (NASA) are already calling for a change of guard before the fresh election is held.
“Then journey to Canaan is inevitable and now we journey on. However, the commission must be cleaned before we conduct a new election,” said the NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga.
He said this is not a task that can be done by the Commission itself, and, instead, called for a bipartisan parliamentary process to undertake changes in the electoral agency.
Raila has already singled out CEO Ezra Chiloba, deputy CEO (Operations, Beatrice Nyabuto, Director of Legal Affairs Praxedes Tororei, Director of Voter Registration and Election Operations Immaculate Kasait and ICT Director James Muhati as some of the senior officials he wants removed before the fresh election, which must be held not later than November 1, this year.
Before the elections, there was a bid to effect changes at the secretariat but this did not materialise. At one time, there was a standoff between Chebukati and Chiloba over transfer of returning and presiding officers in the lead up to August 8. Turf wars are said to have been the order of the day at Anniversary Towers.
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Even as they await the full judgement to see which specific areas were flagged by the judges, Chebukati called in Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko to investigate and prosecute any staff found to have violated the law.
“The Commission invites the office of the Director of Public Prosecution to urgently and expeditiously investigate and prosecute any of our staff that may have been involved in violation of the Election Offences Act,” he said.
The Act places personal criminal liability on individual officers. According to the Chief Justice David Maraga, the IEBC overlooked the Constitution and committed various illegalities affecting the integrity of polls.
Chebukati has, however, indicated that he will not resign, as they will be preparing to conduct fresh presidential election as per the court ruling. Unlike in past functions, Chiloba was conspicuously missing at yesterday’s post-ruling briefing. The IEBC commissioners will hold a plenary meeting Saturday afternoon to chart the way forward.