Inside the raging war at polls agency IEBC

Wafula Chebukati

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati (right) flanked by CEO Marjan Hussein (left) and commissioner Abdi Guliye at Anniversary Towers, Nairobi, on September 5, 2022.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

The four dissenting electoral commissioners on Thursday braved sustained heckling at a meeting organised by Chairman Wafula Chebukati as fresh details emerged of a scheme to have them exit alongside the retiring commissioners.

Mr Chebukati and commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu are set to proceed on three-month terminal leave next month before retiring by January 18. Their exit will essentially hand over the running of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to Vice-Chairperson Juliana Cherera and commissioners Irene Masit, Francis Wanderi and Justus Nyang’aya. Saturday Nation has established the existence of a coordinated scheme by both internal and external forces to have the four out of the commission before Mr Chebukati and his team officially exit.

Some interested parties are said to be pushing Mr Chebukati and his team not to proceed on leave until the four are kicked out. Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga has already sounded a warning to the commission against the planned purge.

Mr Odinga threatened to initiate disbandment of the entire commission should any of the targeted officials be fired. “We know he (Chebukati) is now trying to do what he calls reforms at IEBC. All those officers who resisted the temptation are now being targeted. Mr Marjan, try to do what you call perjury and you will go home just like your predecessor,” said Mr Odinga.

The former premier said the coalition will do everything to protect the commissioners who stood firm in their quest for a free and credible election.

Former Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera-led Farmers Party had filed a petition in Parliament to execute the ouster plan. Garissa Township MP Aden Duale has also set to file his petition.

In an ongoing Post-Evaluation and Boundaries Workshop in Mombasa, staff of the commission heckled the four commissioners in a scheme aimed at setting them up against the staff.

The chairman is said to have accused the four of exposing other staff to intimidation and harassment by security agencies.

“He told the staff how he has been pushing to increase their salaries… that had the election been nullified, the commission would have been disbanded and they would have all lost their jobs,” said an official, who sought anonymity for fear of reprisal.

Mr Chebukati yesterday declined to respond to our queries over the issues. In a written speech, he described Prof Guliye, Mr Molu and Marjan as patriots who were “willing to stand in harm’s way to protect the sovereign power of the people”.

“I equally wish to thank the staff at the National Tallying centre for braving harassment and intimidation in their duty to ensure all election results were verified and tallied,” he said.

Mr Chebukati described the decision by the four commissioners to petition the Supreme Court over the credibility of the polls as “tragic” given they were “all involved in the entire process”.

“It is, therefore, insincere for any member of the commission and senior staff to allege that they were barred from providing assistance to the election management process.”

IEBC chief executive Hussein Marjan has also launched a parallel purge targeting members of the secretariat perceived to be close to the dissenting commissioners. In a letter dated August 29, he threatened to dismiss deputy chief officer Ruth Kulundu for gross misconduct.