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What’s next for a fractured IEBC as Chebukati exits office?

IEBC
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The 2022 General Election has marked the last election overseen by the IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati, leaving behind a fractured Commission. So what’s next for IEBC?


Chebukati was appointed as the chair of the commission in January 2017 after his nomination in 2016 December and afterward a vetting by parliament.

IEBC
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati


His 6-year tenure as the IEBC chair will come to an end in January 2023 as stipulated in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act of 2011.


During the announcement of the 2022 Presidential election results at the Bomas of Kenya, Chebukati declared that it would be his last, wishing his successors well.


“I have done my duty following the constitution and the laws of the land. I feel proud that I have been given this opportunity to serve Kenyans. This of course will be my last election to preside over. And for those who will come, we have prepared for you what the constitution envisioned – an independent electoral commission,” he said.


Chebukati will retire come January 2023, alongside commissioners Abdi Yakub Guliye, and Boya Molu, who will have also completed their 6-year tenure at IEBC.


The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act, 2011 stipulates that;


(1) The members of the Commission shall be appointed for a single term of six years and shall not be eligible for re-appointment.


(2) The members of the Commission shall serve on a full-time basis.


(3) The Commission shall be properly constituted notwithstanding a vacancy in its membership.


Split in IEBC
Under Wafula Chebukati, the commission has faced major splits in the 2017 and 2022 elections.


In 2017, Commissioner Roselyn Akombe quitted the electoral body, and fled out of the country just 7 days before the repeat presidential election, claiming that IEBC was under a political siege, and was unable to agree or make any decisions.


Months later, in April 2018, commissioners Connie Nkatha Maina, Margaret Mwachanya, and Paul Kurgat also resigned from the polls body, declaring a lack of faith in Chebukati’s leadership.


Then followed a dismissal letter delivered to the then IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba in October 2018.


Their exit paved way for the appointment of a new CEO and commissioners, to make IEBC a properly constituted body before heading to the August 2022 General Election.


In September 2021, President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed Juliana Cherera (Vice-chair), Irene Masit, Justus Nyang’aya, and Francis Wanderi to join the IEBC as commissioners.


In March 2022, the commission announced the appointment of Hussein Marjan as its Secretary and CEO.


With both new and old commissioners on board, IEBC still witnessed a split minutes before the announcement of the 2022 presidential election results.


On August 15, the newly appointed four commissioners led by Juliana Cherera absconded the announcement of William Ruto as the president-elect.


The four runaway commissioners termed Chebukati’s process as opaque and filed affidavits at the Supreme Court to challenge the presidential results.


However, after the Supreme Court upheld Ruto’s election on Monday, September 5, the IEBC chair affirmed that the commissioners would not be victimized.


“As a commission, we followed the law, and it’s up to them and their conscience on what they wanted to do going forward. We have not chased away anyone,” he said.


What followed was a statement from the four disgruntled commissioners who said they respect the Supreme Court’s decision and “agree with Chebukati’s statement.”


“We also state that we agree with the statement of the chairperson of the commission which was sent to the media yesterday,” they said.


As Wafula Chebukati, Boya Molu, and Abdi Guliye’s tenure will mark its end in January 2023, the faction consisting of Juliana Cherera, Irene Masit, Justus Nyang’aya, and Francis Wanderi will still be holding office – constitutionally.

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This is unless they are dismissed when a new electoral body is formed to preside over the 2027 General Election.

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