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Chebukati now under pressure to quit IEBC

Seth Onyango @SethManex

The spotlight has now shifted to Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chair Wafula Chebukati after an implosion in the commission that saw the dramatic resignation of three commissioners yesterday.

Vice chair Connie Maina and commissioners Margaret Mwachanya and Paul Kurgat quit in a surprise move that has exposed the ugly underbelly of an agency rocked by power struggles, divided loyalties, ego battles and tendering rows.

The trio’s exit brings to four the number of those who have bolted from the “house of chaos” that is IEBC. The first to jump ship was Dr Roselyne Akombe, who left just before last October repeat president poll.

The repeat was occasioned by Supreme Court’s nullification of presidential election after a successful petition by the opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa).

In a potentially defining moment in the unfolding saga—that could be the death knell for IEBC—Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen has given Chebukati seven days to resign.

The senator also wants the two remaining commissioners, Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu to quit in a week. “Chebukati, Molu and Guliye must resign from IEBC within the next seven days or we (shall) form a tribunal to investigate them,” he posted on his Twitter account.

It is a high-stakes drama with profound implications and leaves the Chebukati-led commission dysfunctional without the much-needed legal quorum to make key decisions.

Murkomen said his call for the remaining IEBC commissioners to resign was informed by recent wrangles over the fight for tenders as well their control and manipulation of IEBC staff.

“It turns out the chairman had never managed anything else before being appointed to IEBC. Relevant experience is important,” he added.

Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua, Laikipia Women’s Representative Cate Waruguru and Muhoroni MP James K’Oyoo said the three remaining commissioners should tell the world what happened during the last polls.

“The commissioners have done the most honourable thing to resign. It is also good that chief executive Ezra Chiloba has been suspended, but all these have come too little, too late,” said Wambua.

He said when nullifying the presidential poll, the Supreme Court found IEBC to have flouted electoral laws. “We, as the Opposition, cited lack of trust in the IEBC as the reason as to why we kept off the repeat elections. The current events at the commission are now confirming our concerns,” said Wambua.

Waruguru said the move illustrated the discontent and lack of consultation in the commission. And as the pressure mounted on Chebukati, the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee chaired by Opiyo Wandayi and the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chaired by William Cheptumo summoned the beleaguered chairman to shed light on the ongoings at the commission.

Chebukati is expected to appear before PAC on Monday. Announcing their resignation, commissioners Maina, Kurgat and Mwachanya faulted the chairman for allowing self interests to override those of the electoral agency. In a joint statement, the trio said they had lost faith in Chebukati’s leadership.

“The chair has failed to be the steady and stable hand that steers the ship in difficult times and gives directions when needed. Instead, under his leadership, the commission boardroom has become a venue for peddling misinformation,” said Mwachanya.

But Chebukati said he had not received official resignation letters from them. “The commission will give a comprehensive statement at an appropriate time,” he said.

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