Police thwart Azimio MPs protest against IEBC official Ruth Kulundu ouster

Azimio protestors

Police officers arresting a protestor outside Anniversary Towers in Nairobi on September 26,2022 where Azimio leaders and supporters had gone to demand for reinstatement of IEBC deputy Chief Executive Officer Ruth Kulundu.

Photo credit: Evans Habil I Nation Media Group

A subdued protest, locked gates at Anniversary Towers and passive police running battles characterised an attempt by a section of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya MPs to gain access to the electoral commission’s headquarters in Nairobi yesterday.

In scenes that pale in comparison to the infamous “Teargas Mondays”, only six Azimio lawmakers out of more than 150 under the outfit turned up for the protest. There were also no members of the public who joined in.

The lawmakers were demonstrating over last week’s interdiction of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Deputy Chief Executive Officer Ruth Kulundu.

In under an hour, the legislators had been dispersed by police from their meeting place outside CJ’s restaurant before they hurriedly addressed the media and went their way.

While addressing the media, the legislators gave IEBC 24 hours to reinstate Ms Kulundu as they threatened chairman Wafula Chebukati and CEO Marjan Hussein Marjan with unspecified action if they failed to heed to the demand.

“We also demand that IEBC immediately calls to order Marjan or else we shall demand he relinquishes his position prior to the commencement of the boundaries review exercise or conducting the pending by-elections,” said Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang who read a statement on behalf of the MPs.

The lawmakers accused the two officers of nepotism and unfair human resource practices, thus eroding the gains made in transforming the electoral system in Kenya since 2007.

Despite IEBC being set up as an independent commission by the constitution, the MPs said the conduct of the two individuals supported by a minority of the commissioners, portray an institution that has surrendered its independence, disregarded the rule of law and has resorted to boot-licking the Executive.

“We are ready for this engagement and we will do it every day on the streets if that is what it takes,” said Mr Kajwang.

They said the manner in which Ms Kulundu has been treated is not only a breach of the law but is also part of a well-orchestrated scheme to intimidate public officers who stand for the rule of law.

Mr Kajwang said IEBC failed to follow procedure in the Ms Kulundu matter.

“The Commission must sit in plenary and resolve that the CEO issues the show cause letter, which may be followed by interdiction or suspension if further investigations are required,” said the MP.

“However, no such or semblance of such procedure was followed since Marjan, acting in concert with Chebukati, had an ulterior motive to achieve. He unilaterally interdicted Ms Kulundu as a way of punishing her for standing with the truth,” he said.

Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi accused Mr Marjan of running down the secretariat by presiding over demotion of directors, and using pay cuts to force employees into submission. Consequently, he said, with a dysfunctional secretariat, the IEBC cannot be trusted to discharge its constitutional mandate, especially the impending delimitation of boundaries and the forthcoming by-elections.

“We will continue coming here until Ms Kulundu gets justice. You cannot be intimidated because you have been assumed to be supporting the Azimio,” said Mr Osotsi.

mbakasi West MP Mark Mwenje said they will not sit and watch people being dismissed from office without due process.  

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