MPs resolve to throw out rebel elections quartet
It could be a case of guilty as charged for the four embattled Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) bosses as the parliamentary committee which investigated their conduct tables its report before the House today.
Sources within the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) hinted to People Daily that the majority of members had returned a guilty verdict, which would pave the way for President William Ruto to form a tribunal to investigate the matter further.
The JLAC members who retreated to the Norfolk Hotel, Nairobi to write their report ahead of its tabling today were in agreement that there was sufficient grounds to have the four commissioners led by IEBC vice chair Juliana Cherera and Commissioners Irene Masit, Justus Nyang’aya and Francis Wanderi kicked out of office.
A member who did not want to be named as he is not authorised to discuss parliamentary matters outside the House said that a majority of the members from the Kenya Kwanza side who took part in the inquiry after Azimio lawmakers boycotted the sessions had already made up their minds especially after the four failed to appear before the committee to give their side of the story.
All the four commissioners failed to show up for the hearings only to send their lawyers who also said they would not take part in the proceedings as the committee lacked jurisdiction to investigate such matters, a decision that was immediately rejected by the committee which accused the team of delaying tactics to make it impossible for it to conclude with the hearings on time.
“There is nothing much for us to do about this, this is an obvious matter, these commissioners will go home,” said the member.
The move came even as Azimio Coalition remained mum on whether it will take part in today’s proceedings although members of its party have maintained that they will not recognise the process leading up to the tabling of the report as the committee lacked jurisdiction to investigate the matter.
The Azimio lawmakers who are seven in the committee boycotted all the sessions after they raised preliminary objections that the committee did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter.
“We have said that we do not recognise this process, we still stand with these statements to the end,” said a member of Azimio who chose to remain anonymous.
The JLAC committee chaired by George Murugara which completed its hearings on Tuesday is expected to table its report today morning to allow debate on it in the afternoon.
Already the matter has been lined up for debate in today’s order paper meaning that MPs will have to deliberate and take a vote on it.
This is after the committee was granted a three days extension beginning yesterday to conclude with its report writing.
The committee has until today (Thursday) to table its report before the National Assembly breaks for its long December holiday following the lapse of the 14 days that it had been given to deal with the matter.
Once the committee tables the report, the House will have 10 days to decide whether or not the petitions contain valid grounds for removal of the commissioners
“Consideration of the report on a petition understanding order 230 (The Chairperson, Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs),”reads the order paper.
The committee is inquiring whether there are grounds for the removal of the four commissioners after four petitioners filed petitions in Parliament seeking for the formation of a tribunal by the President to remove them from office after they described the tail end of the vote verification and tallying process of the August 8 general election as opaque and distanced themselves from the results moments before the commission’s chairman Wafula Chebukati declared Ruto winner.
In their petition filed by the Republican Party, Rev Dennis Ndwiga Nthumbi, Geoffrey Langat and Owuor Steve Gerry, the petitioners accused the four of gross misconduct and violation of the law.
In its petition, the Republican Party, says that the four violated the Constitution by issuing a press conference rejecting the presidential results on grounds that the chairperson of the commission had conducted the verification and tallying process in an opaque manner.
The other petition is by the Rev Nthumbi, who accuses the four of partiality and biased conduct by agreeing to the proposal to alter the results of the presidential elections in favour of one candidate or in the alternative, to force a run-off.
Further, the petitioner accuses the four of disowning the results of the presidential election yet they had participated in the verification and tallying of the results.
“They accepted a proposal to alter the results of the election to subvert the will of the people of Kenya contrary to the Constitution,” reads the petition.
Langat and Owour filed the third and fourth petitions in which they argue that the commissioners were in contravention of the Constitution and do not have the mandate to sit in the electoral body.
Proceedings for the removal of a member of a constitutional commission or an independent office holder differ significantly from the investigatory powers of the House since constitutional office holders are protected by the law and the Constitution and there are strict rules stipulating how they can be removed from office.