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Is Chebukati working for Ruto to create poll crisis in 2022?

A few months ago, Deputy President William Ruto boasted he did not care about who will be overseeing the 2022 General Election because he was assured of victory to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.

So sanguine he was that he even proposed that ODM leader Raila Odinga’s elder brother Oburu Oginga head the electoral commission.

However, recently the DP and his allies conceded that seeking the presidency is no child play.

As a result, they started attacking cabinet secretaries who were openly marketing Raila, who is the DP’s main presidential challenger in next year’s State House contest.

The Tangatanga group was particularly unhappy with Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and his ICT counterpart Joe Mucheru.

 Matiang’i will provide security during the election while Mucheru will deal with technology, which is key for transmission of presidential results.

Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Secretary-General Veronica Maina wrote to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), protesting the involvement of the two in presidential competition and calling they be removed from the team that is preparing the poll.

In his reply, IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati warned the ministers, citing that Section 23 of the Leadership and Integrity Act bars them from taking a political position.

And now a crisis is looming over the 2022 elections after IEBC pulled out of the Election Preparedness Committee, citing alleged infringement of its independence.

In a letter dated Monday, November 29, Chebukati informed members of the National Multi-Sectoral Consultative Forum on Election Preparedness and its Technical Working Committee that the polls’ body would not conform to the pressure to give up on its election mandate as stipulated in the Constitution. 

Chebukati raised concerns with the terms of reference of the election preparedness committee.  

“After consultations and in-depth critical appraisal of the terms of reference, IEBC, would wish to respectfully withdraw from further engagement in the activities of the said committee,” Chebukati stated.

He cited Article 88 of the Constitution which outlines the mandate of the Commission, and Article 249(2) which provides that the commissions and the holders of independent offices are subject only to the 2010 Constitution and the law; and are independent and not subject to direction or control by any person or authority. Chebukati further alleged that the committee was pushing out the IEBC while attempting to hand over its powers to the other aforementioned institutions. 

The lawyer alluded to an alleged plan to tamper with the election as he was adamant that IEBC was mandated to ensure that whatever voting method is used, the system is simple, accurate, verifiable, secure, accountable and transparent.

He noted that IEBC was of the opinion that the NMSCF on Election Preparedness, apart from infringing on the independence of the Commission, had assumed the role of other institutions, notably, the Parliamentary Departmental Committees, particularly the Justice and Legal Affairs (JLAC) of the National Assembly.

Prior to IEBC withdrawal, the committee comprised the IEBC, Attorney General Paul Kihara Kariuki, Chief Justice Martha Karambu Koome (Judiciary), Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani (Treasury), CS Joe Mucheru (ICT), Maj Gen. (Rtd) Philip Kameru – Director-General National Intelligence Service (NIS), Inspector General Hillary Mutyambai (National Police Service) among others.

And now questions are being asked: Without the participation of IEBC in the team, how will the body hold free and fair elections?

What is emerging is that Chebukati is in the pockets of Ruto, who has sensed defeat.

Ruto wants a poll crisis in 2022 so that he can negotiate for power with the eventual winner, Raila.

The scheme must be stopped.

 


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