The boardroom war at IEBC raging like wild fire after four commissioners with strong link to Uhuru Jubilee regime told Chairman Wafula Chebukati to resign for what they termed as ‘giving in easily’ to opposition demands for a free and credible election.
The four commissioners led by Vice Chair Vice Consolata Nkatha-Maina, commissioners Abdi Guliye, Paul Kurgat and Molu Boy
told Chebukati to go slow on the proposed “clean up” of the commission secretariat. Chebukati’s move to clean-up the secretariat was supported by commissioners Roseline Akombe and Margaret Wanjala.
They demanded that Chebukati withdraws the dismissal letter he had sent to CEO Ezra Chiloba and other top managers who were implicated of masterminding the August 8th polls. The four commissioners defended Chiloba and the secretariat.
IEBC is now in a crisis as majority commissioners (4 out of 7) support Chiloba and his team that bungled the August Polls. The top managers who were involved in rigging include deputy CEO Betty Nyabuti, IT director James Muhati, Director Voter Registration Immaculate Kasait and Legal affairs director Praxedes Tororey.
Chebukati has called a plenary meeting this morning to discuss emerging issues and plans for the October 17 polls ordered by the Supreme Court.
Before making the changes on Tuesday, Chebukati consulted extensively with staff members and other election experts. On Monday he tried without success to get the six commissioners to accept his plan with two agreeing (Akombe and Wanjala)
“The chairman believes from his own investigations, he knows what went wrong with the August 8 polls that attracted a stinging rebuke from the Supreme Court, and that he can fix it. But other commissioners think he is acting too fast,” a senior IEBC official familiar with the developments told local media.
Yesterday Uhuru’s Jubilee party joined NASA in rejecting insisting the personnel changes did not go far enough.
The Opposition NASA, which has been pushing for the dismissal of top electoral chiefs, including CEO Chiloba, dismissed Chebukati’s changes as just cosmetic
“Chebukati should not think people are fools. You appoint people to a project and don’t tell us the status of Chiloba and others who messed up the elections,” ODM Director of Elections Junet Mohamed said.
The four pro-Jubilee commissioners resisted a radical purge proposed by Chebukati terming irregular and illegal.
“On what grounds are we to dismiss the officers?” one commissioner reportedly asked the chairman. Other commissioners insisted they should await the Supreme Court’s detailed judgment of what went wrong in the August 8 vote, tallying and transmission.
Here The Star Newspaper reports of the behind the scenes that culmnated into naming of a new project team oversee the October presidential polls:
The vehement resistance denied Chebukati the majority necessary to adopt his far-reaching changes, forcing him to devise a new strategy.
After the standoff at the meeting on Tuesday afternoon at Ole Sereni Hotel, Chebukati and Akombe retreated and emerged with a strategy on the rerun.
This involved sidelining the embattled staff, initially to be sacked, and bringing on board a parallel team of county coordinators to replace them.
“I hear you, commissioners, but in my opinion and that of my colleague this is the best way to navigate this situation and restore public confidence,” Chebukati is reported to have said.
Chebukati, a lawyer, quoted the law, which he said allowed him to realign election officials.
“As the National Returning Officer, I wish to assure all Kenyans of my commitment to ensure this fresh presidential election is done in accordance with the Constitution, the relevant laws and that it reflects the sovereign will of the Kenyan people,” Chebukati said in media statement on Tuesday.
In a manouever to sidestep Chiloba, Chebukati named one of the deputy CEOs Marjan Hussein, as project coordinator of the new elections. This puts Hussein directly in charge of all electoral processes, including staff supervision, for three months.
Chebukati also named Kisii County Election Coordinator Sidney Namulungu as head of operations, a critical role previously under Deputy CEO Betty Nyabuto.
Mombasa County Coordinator Nancy Kariuki was elevated to head of logistics, taking over from director of Elections and Voter Rgistration Immaculate Kassait.
Kitui County Returning Officer Albert Gogo takes over the critical ICT docket from James Muhati whose tenure has been plagued by controversies.
Chebukati said the new ICT boss will be directly answerable to him, in a change of tack after claims the election transmission system was hacked and results changed.
Silas Rotich was moved from Nakuru county to take charge of the National Tallying Centre, while Salome Oyugi was named new Legal Services director.
Yesterday, Raila and his co-principals were to meet the IEBC chiefs and the staffing issue was expected to feature prominently.
NASA has issued a raft of demands before taking part in the new election and has threatened a boycott. It demands a full audit of the technology deployed in the election, review of the poll register and polling stations.