Azimio banks on IEBC commissioners split to push its petition
Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga and his running mate Martha Karua want the Supreme Court to allow their petition for invalidation of William Ruto’s election on grounds that the electoral commission has admitted to election irregularities.
Together with the four-member splinter group of the electoral commission and activists, they have dismissed the arguments made by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati that the elections were free, fair, transparent and verifiable.
Their case has the backing of former Attorney-General Amos Wako, who has denied allegations of attempting to influence IEBC commissioners to alter the presidential election results.
In urging the apex court to invalidate Dr Ruto’s victory, the Azimio leaders are banking on alleged admissions by Mr Chebukati that he did not involve the other members of the commission in the tail end of the tallying and verification process.
Mr Odinga and Ms Karua are also banking on the contradictions and split in the IEBC, after the commission filed two contradicting responses in the presidential petition.
One faction of IEBC is led by Mr Chebukati and has commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu,and CEO Marjan Hussein marjan. The other is led by Vice-Chairperson Juliana Cherera and has commissioners Francis Wanderi, Irene Masit and Justus Nyang’aya.
In an affidavit sworn and filed by Ms Karua, the Azimio leaders argue that the apex court “cannot close its eyes to the claims made by four commissioners touching on the accuracy, verifiability and credibility of the results declared by Mr Chebukati in favour of Dr Ruto”.
The Azimio principals are also placing the strength of their case on Dr Ruto’s failure to respond to the issues of election irregularities raised in the petition, instead disparaging Mr Odinga’s conduct.
“Mr Odinga cannot be faulted for his decision to seek justice through the courts as he has done now and in the past as that is his constitutional right,” Ms Karua says in her affidavit.
Ms Karua claims that the responses filed by Mr Chebukati, IEBC and Dr Ruto depict the lack of transparency and accountability within the commission.
“Commissioners Cherera, Wanderi, Masit and Nyang’aya have pleaded in their respective affidavits that the commission did not conclude the constitutional exercise of tallying and verification prior to the disputed declaration by Mr Chebukati,” Ms Karua says.
She also says: “In all the responses by the respondents, it has been demonstrated that Dr Ruto did not attain the constitutional threshold of 50%+1.”
She also wants the court to allow the petition on the strength of an allegation that Mr Chebukati presented before the court figures that are different and at variance with the ones he publicly declared to the country as the results of the presidential election.
“The allegations raised by Mr Chebukati touching on the voter turnout and total valid votes cast are self-defeating and a contradiction of the results of the presidential election declared on August 15, 2022. The position taken by him in his response is an afterthought and a belated attempt of trying to justify the illegal results declared by himself,” she adds.
The Azimio leaders add: “The replying affidavit of Dr Ruto does not substantively and concisely address or respond to any of the issues or grounds raised in our petition challenging his illegal declaration as President-elect.”
According to her, the allegations by Dr Ruto that Azimio agents and supporters engaged in rowdy and violent conduct on the floor of the National Tallying Centre, which allegedly disrupted the announcement of results from the remaining 27 constituencies, are false.
Regarding the response by the electoral commission’s ICT director Michael Ouma that there was no tampering with or storage of forms 34A by external parties, Ms Karua says the defence is based on falsehoods as Azimio’s ICT expert Benson Wesonga confirmed the interference.
She adds that the allegations by Prof Abdi Guliye that state actors attempted to influence the outcome of the presidential election are unsubstantiated and made as an afterthought with the intention of whipping up emotions.
Mr Wako, for his part, in a statutory statement attached to Ms Karua’s affidavit, denied allegations by Prof Guliye that he attempted to induce members of the elections agency to release election results in favour of Mr Odinga.