Presidential elections hopefuls Reuben Kigame and Ekuru Aukot yesterday called for the resignation of electoral agency boss Wafula Chebukati even as calls for the electoral team to reopen the clearance of candidates for the country’s top seat intensified.
Mr Kigame, a renowned gospel singer, and Dr Aukot, of the Thirdway Alliance, were reacting to a ruling by the High Court that quashed the requirement by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for presidential candidates to submit copies of identity cards of supporters.
Presidential candidates are required to have at least 2,000 supporters from at least 24 of Kenya’s 47 counties.
Yesterday, Mr Kigame praised the court decision, which seems to have given all those who were barred from vying a political lifeline.
"Mr Chebukati is discriminating against people living with disabilities because when I presented those copies he refused to look at them. I am given the same conditions like other aspirants or candidates yet I am a person living with disability," Mr Kigame said.
He added: “Mr Chebukati is not fit to hold office and I believe that he should be replaced, He is discriminatory and a snob. And in this country, we have enough good lawyers.”
Mr Kigame, an independent presidential aspirant, said that he was ready to take part in the elections next month should he get clearance by the IEBC.
Gives us hope
"The entire process was not fair because most of us were locked out, which I believe was deliberate. This ruling gives us hope and a window that we can be cleared to contest,” said Mr Kigame at a press conference in Eldoret town.
At the same time, he said that his manifesto is centred on providing humane and responsible leadership aimed at addressing corruption, improving food security and health care for Kenyans.
“Kenyans deserve God-fearing and honest leaders. We also want to reduce the high cost of living and increase food production and address the debts,” he added.
On Tuesday, the High Court quashed directives that require presidential aspirants to submit copies of identification documents of their supporters.
Justice Anthony Mrima, in a judgment that could make the presidential election a crowded race, said the regulations that required independent candidates to submit copies of identification documents of their supporters are unconstitutional.
Justice Mrima said the regulations enacted by the IEBC in 2012 and amended in 2017 contravened the Constitution and the Data Protection Act.
For his part, Dr Aukot wants Mr Chebukati to resign and for the printing of presidential ballot papers to be suspended.
His party also wants the IEBC to roll out fresh nominations of presidential aspirants, saying the process that produced the four contenders – Deputy President William Ruto, Raila Odinga, George Wajackoyah and Mwaure Waihiga – was illegal.
“We demand that their nominations be quashed and the presidential ballot printing be shelved,” the party said.
Dr Aukot now wants “a proper nomination exercise carried out in accordance with the law and the Constitution … without malice, differential treatment of aspirants and outright bias as demonstrated by Mr Chebukati”.
He accused Mr Chebukati of seeking to amend the Constitution through the backdoor “where in application of the annulled regulations he in essence sought to illegally amend article 137(1) d”.
Dr Aukot argued that there was a correlation between the alleged incompetence of Mr Chebukati today and the annulment of the 2007 General Election, “where by the dispute and subsequent order that the presidential vote be held afresh, lives and money running to billions were lost by the economy”.
Dr Aukot said the order that the 2007 presidential election be held afresh was disregarded by Mr Chebukati, who went ahead to “gazette two individuals (Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga) although the election had been declared null and void”.
Litany of incompetence
“We (in 2007) successfully moved the court to enforce the Supreme Court judgment and the High Court ordered that the name of Dr Aukot be included [on] the repeat elections ballot paper,” the Thirdway Alliance boss said.
The party added: “The above are just a chronology of a litany of incompetence, constitutional violations and other wrongs committed by Mr Chebukati while serving as chairman of the IEBC.”
“It is not tenable to allow such an incompetent individual to oversee [the August 9 General Election] … this country has no shortage of competent and upright people … he must exit IEBC now”.
Mr Chebukati said the commission’s legal experts were studying the judgment and would come up with a response at an appropriate time and through the right channels. By the time of publishing this story, no response had been communicated.
However, lawyer Timothy Mwangi said the IEBC could appeal, apply for judicial guidance on whether the ruling means it will have to hold fresh nominations of presidential aspirants or ignore the ruling and see whether it will be taken to court so as a more direct order can be made.
“It is a legal tangle and there are endless dynamics in it … the best one can do is to wait for the IEBC to make a move regarding the pronouncement … You can say that the game has just begun,” he said.