Deputy President William Ruto has sensationally claimed that there is a plot by the state to postpone the polls just a day after the electoral commission said seizure of poll materials was threatening to stall preparations.
Mr Ruto and his close allies yesterday told President Uhuru Kenyatta that there was no room to suspend next month’s elections even as they linked the Head of State to the alleged use of police officers to harass poll officials.
But Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition last evening through its secretary-general Junet Mohamed dismissed the claims, stating that they would be the last people to call for postponement of the elections as the coalition was sure of a round one win.
Mr Mohammed said that the constitution is clear on when to have polls and there is no way it can be delayed.
“The election date is cast in stone. It is in the constitution that it has to be done on the set date. If there are people thinking of postponing the election, it cannot be Azimio because all factors point at a landslide win in our favour,” said Mr Mohammed.
“Let these people not distort the facts on the ground because we want that election like yesterday,” he added.
The claims by DP Ruto came in the wake of a protest by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati following the arrest and subsequent detention of Venezuelan Comarco Gregoria.
Mr Chebukati said the police had confiscated all electronic items, including mobile phones, laptops and flash disks in the custody of the personnel.
The electronic items, the commission said, contain important and sensitive information relating to the forthcoming elections.
Further, the commission said the personnel were compelled to give passwords to the confiscated phones and gadgets resulting in a violation of their right to privacy. “…with the implication that the commission is now not able to seamlessly prepare for the elections,” said Mr Chebukati in a statement.
Addressing Kenya Kwanza Alliance rallies in Namanga and Kitengela towns yesterday, DP Ruto further claimed there was a scheme to use the police to harass poll officials with an aim of delaying the polls that are two weeks away.
"Mr President, you have a responsibility to ensure credible polls. There is no room to postpone (the elections),” said DP Ruto. "Even if you are the Azimio coalition chairman, you have a responsibility to deliver a credible election. Mr President, do not let police officers be used to interfere with the polls. We will defeat your project (Odinga) but please let us have free and fair elections,” he added.
Dr Ruto said the government working in cahoots with Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leaders had resorted to intimidation and blackmail of poll officials to frustrate preparations by the agency.
"Our competitors have sensed defeat. They have waged a war with electoral agency in an attempt to postpone the polls. The election will be on August 9 and it will not be postponed even for an hour,” said Dr Ruto.
“Kenyans are ready for the polls. Let our competitors know they are not competing with IEBC,” he added.
The DP said Kenya Kwanza had confidence with IEBC whether they use manual register or otherwise. Similar views were shared by Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki, who claimed that Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga were desperate to interfere with the polls after sensing defeat.
“It should worry the people of Kenya when the IEBC says that security agents confiscated gadgets with election technology and passwords. The handshake duo is so desperate and is determined to take the country down as they exit after five years of failure to implement their deceptive BBI,” said Prof Kindiki.
“In their stupor, they wouldn’t know that flash disks and tech programmes can be reformatted in minutes. They will do nothing, there is no election they will steal. Let them go home peacefully and leave us to clean up their mess,” he added.
But head of Mr Odinga’s campaign and Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi said IEBC has to account for its action in handling poll materials.
“Somebody has to explain what a foreigner from Venezuala was doing with poll materials in his personal luggage. To use the matter as a basis to postpone the election is ridiculous,” said Mr Muriithi.
“Those talking of postponement and delays are making pure excuses. All of us have to remain subject to scrutiny. They have sensed defeat, that is why they can make these ridiculous claims,” he added.
And while Narok, Dr Ruto and his running mate Rigathi Gachagua lashed at Mr Kenyatta for using chiefs and government administration officers to force Kenyans to support Mr Odinga.
Mr Rigathi asked the chiefs and other government officials to ignore calls to be used as political tools.
Dr Ruto also delved into the controversial Kedong Ranch matter, vowing to address historical land injustices afflicting the Maasai community.
Speaking at Ntulele in Narok East constituency, DP Ruto took a swipe at Mr Odinga for allegedly not speaking about the Kedong issue.
He reiterated that the Maasai Mau forest matter was over and now the focus should be on the Kedong Ranch debacle.
"I will ensure that the Maasai community gets their rights in Kedong Ranch. The 4,000 acres they were given is too small. We shall ensure that the community gets the best bargain," said Dr Ruto.
Additional reporting by Robert Kiplagat