George Kebaso @Morarak
The controversy surrounding Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) took a fresh twist yesterday after three commissioners resigned from the agency.
But where did the rain start beating the poll body? It all started during the 2013 General Election. In April 29, 2014, one year after the Jubilee administration came to power, the Opposition, then Cord, presented a petition in Parliament through activist Wafula Buke, seeking to have IEBC commissioners’ conduct probed.
Cord wanted the commission, then chaired Isaack Hassan, out of office for their role in the procurement biometric kits that failed in the March 2013 election. The nine-member commission was also accused for alleged gross misconduct in the management of election.
The National Assembly dismissed the petition and the Opposition resorted to public protests. “Our Constitution foresaw such possibilities and provided the now greatly talked about rights under Articles 37.
Every Kenyan is given a right to assemble, demonstrate, picket and present petitions to public authorities,” said Cord leader Raila Odinga. In August, 2016 the Hassan-led commission gave in to pressure and agreed to go home, but with conditions.
The IEBC commissioners agreed to leave office as long as they are paid all their salaries and allowances, ending a protracted dispute. This paved way for a joint parliamentary committee to recruit new election team.
In January 2017, less than a year to the General Election, a fresh IEBC team led by Wafula Chebukati took over at IEBC. Chebukati was picked alongside commissioners Connie Maina, Boya Molu, Roselyn Akombe, Paul Kurgat, Margaret Mwachanya and Abdi Guliye.
They also oversaw the procurement of Kenya Integrated Electoral Management System (KIEMS) and key electoral equipment, now at the centre of dispute.
As soon as the new team took over, it faced fresh bottlenecks after it was cited that the procurement of the KIEMS kits was single-sourced. Since then, the commission has face a myriad challenges that saw Akombe resign and CEO Ezra Chiloba proceed on long leave.
He resumed duty February only to walk into another storm. Chebukati sent him on compulsory leave last week, leading to divisions in the commission. And yesterday, Maina, Mwachanya and Kurgat called it quits, saying they did not have confidence in Chebukati.