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Chairman of IEBC Wafula Chebukati.  Image: FILE

Political leaders allied to Opposition Chief Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto have sharply differed following IEBC's withdrawal from a crucial election preparedness committee.

While ODM stalwarts accused IEBC of planning to bungle the 2022 polls, pro-Ruto brigade hailed IEBC boss Wafula Chebukati, saying the Office of the President wants to take over the management of the elections.

Suna East MP Junet Mohammed claimed Chebukati is preparing the agency for 2017 type of elections that saw the courts nullify presidential polls and ordered repeat elections. 

“As ODM we want free, fair, verifiable elections. We want to tell Chebukati we are watching you. We know what is happening,” Junet said.

“We have not forgotten how you bungled 2017 elections. We don’t care which party writes letter to where. All we want as ODM is transparent, free and fair election.”

ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna said IEBC is running away from key players that it will need to deliver credible elections. 

“IEBC will need security agencies, ICT and Judiciary in the conduct of the coming elections. They (IEBC) should not be intimidated by a party with only one elected MP,” Sifuna said. 

In a letter to Interior PS Karanja Kibicho dated November 22, Chebukati said it had made the decision to withdraw from the National Multi-Sectoral Consultative Forum on Election Preparedness and Technical Working Committee after consultations

According to the IEBC boss, the committee was interfering with its independence.

But speaking to the Star, Soy MP Caleb Kositany said Chebukati raised weighty matters in his letter.

Kositany said there is every reason for Kenyans to worry over the manner in which the OP wants to play a leading role in preparing the August 2022 election.

"It is the same Executive that has denied IEBC external  funding at the same time starving the agency. Why want to lead the process? We already know that OP technocrats including the President have taken a political stand and they have no role sitting in such a forum," he told the Star.

He called on the Chief Justice Martha Koome to emulate Chebukati by recusing herself from the committee. 

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria termed the move by Chebukati on Monday evening “the biggest risk to a peaceful Kenya”.

Kuria partly agreed with Chebukati’s decision but put him on the spot for allegedly frustrating political parties.

In a statement, Kuria claimed Chebukati has not been accountable to political parties who are the main stakeholders in elections, saying that by so doing, he posed a threat to “a peaceful Kenya”.

“I support Chebukati in refusing to report to government agencies but he has refused to be accountable even to political parties who are the stakeholders in elections.

He is the biggest risk to a peaceful Kenya,” he said.Elgeyo Marakwet Senator, Kipchumba Murkomen said Chief Justice Martha Koome should follow suit and pull out of the committee.

"Out of my personal admiration and respect for CJ Martha Koome, I won’t criticize her for defending her place in the forum. Let her do soul searching and bring honor and dignity to her high office," stated Murkomen.

Embakasi East MP Babu Owino said the decision was ill-informed and could amount to sabotaging of elections.

Owino said 'they' are watching his every move by the electoral body.In a letter to Interior PS Karanja Kibicho, Chebukati said it had made the decision after consultations, adding that the panel would interfere with its independence.

Chebukati cited the need for independence as the main reason the commission opted out.

IEBC’s withdrawal comes hot on the heels of a letter by Deputy President William Ruto's UDA asking  Koome to keep off management of elections.

The committee brings  together IEBC, Attorney General Paul Kihara Kariuki, CJ (Judiciary), Cabinet Secretaries Ukur Yatani (National Treasury) CS Joe Mucheru (ICT), Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Philip Kameru - Director General National Intelligence Service (NIS), Inspector General Hillary Mutyambai (National Police Service).

Others are Anne Amadi (Chief Registrar of the Judiciary), Director of Public Prosecutions, Noordin Haji, Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto, Martin Wambora (Chairman Council of Governors), Ezra Chiloba (Director General, Communications Authority) and Ann Nderitu (Registrar of Political Parties).  By GIDEON KETER AND ALLAN KISIA, The Star

 

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