‘Ruto has declared war on us’- Raila protests suspension of IEBC commissioners
Azimio la Umoja - One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga has condemned the suspension of four embattled electoral commissioners by President William Ruto, terming the move as a plot to rig the 2027 general elections.
Addressing a press conference on Friday, December 2, the former Prime Minister claimed that the probe against IEBC vice-chair Juliana Cherera and commissioners Irene Masit, Justus Nyang’aya and Francis Wanderi was predetermined.
He stated the President had declared war on the opposition, saying they won't take the "injustice" lying down.
"The events in parliament yesterday on the formula of appointing IEBC Commissioners and the hounding of the 4 Commissioners has got nothing to do with integrity, but about 2027. Ruto wants to rig 2027 election in 2022. We should not allow this to happen,” Raila said insisting that his victory was stolen in the August presidential poll.
"If that's what the administration has decided to prioritise we are ready to join them down that path... President William Ruto has declared war on us, we are not going to be quiet and watch instead fight back by protesting."
The ODM party leader vowed to go on with nationwide rallies to protest the plot to kick out the commissioners from office.
"We are witnessing the emergence of a darker form of dictatorship than what we witnessed under KANU. We in Azimio are here to let Kenyans know that with the benefit of history we are hoping to protest and resist much more strongly than we did in 2007 because we now know how wrong this can go if we don't stop it now," he added.
"We appeal to Kenyans to get us right and clear that this is not about the four commissioners this is about the 2027 elections that could go terribly wrong if we let the Ruto administration get away with the fire they are lighting."
The protests, Raila said, will start with a rally at Kamukunji Grounds in Nairobi on December 7, before being extended to other counties across the country.
Earlier, President Ruto appointed a nine-member tribunal led by Court of Appeal Judge Aggrey Muchelule to inquire into four petitions seeking the removal of the commissioner who rejected the presidential results announced by IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati in August.
Other members of the tribunal are Carolyne Kamende Daudi, Linda Gakii Kiome, Mathew Njaramba Nyabena and Col. (Rtd.) Saeed Khamis Saeed.
Kibet Kirui Emmanuel and Irene Tunta were named as joint secretaries of the tribunal.
The tribunal's lead counsel will be Peter Munge Murage, who will be assisted by Zamzam Abdi Abib.
"The mandate of the Tribunal shall be to consider the Petition for the removal of (1) Juliana Whonge Cherera, (2) Francis Mathenge Wanderi, (3) Irene Cherop Masit and (4) Justus Abonyo Nyang’aya from office as members of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and to inquire into the allegations therein," President Ruto said.
The tribunal is expected to prepare and submit a report and its recommendations to the Head of State within 30 days.
Yesterday, the National Assembly's Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) committee chaired by Tharaka MP George Murugara recommended the suspension of the officials after adopting the petitions that called for the ouster of the commissioners over abuse of office and gross misconduct.
In its report, JLAC resolved that the petitions, filed by the Republican Party, Rev. Dennis Ndwiga Nthumbi, Geoffrey Lang’at and Owuor Steve Gerry, together with materials in support of their removal, be submitted to the President for further action noting that there were sufficient grounds for their removal.
“That the House resolves that his Excellency the President appoints a tribunal to deal with the matter in accordance with Article 251(5) of the constitution. That considering the matters to which the petitions herein relate, the House resolves that his Excellency the President suspends the commissioners pending the determination of the tribunal,” read the report in part.
“That the House finds that the petitions discloses the grounds for the removal from office of Ms Julina Cherera, Ms Irene Cherop Masit, Mr Francis Mathenge Wanderi and Mr Justus Abonyo Nyang’aya as commissioners of IEBC,” the report added.