Elections reveal sharp political differences within IEBC

Sunday August 13 2017

IEBC commissioner Roselyn Kwamboka speaks as other commissioners listen at the Bomas of Kenya on Thursday. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

IEBC commissioner Roselyn Kwamboka speaks as other commissioners listen at the Bomas of Kenya on August 10, 2017. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NATION TEAM
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The August 8 elections have revealed frailties and sharp political differences within the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission which may have largely contributed to the delays in the declaration of presidential results at the Bomas of Kenya, the nerve centre of the Tuesday elections.

Despite an earlier promise that the declaration would be made pretty fast, the ensuing haggling would see President Uhuru Kenyatta declared winner on the fourth day.

Information pieced together by the Nation, some through first-hand observation and interviews reveal a commission mostly working at cross purposes in an apparent display of political interests at play.

In the middle of the just concluded elections, reports leaked of major boardroom disagreements among top commission officials who accused each other of either lacking the spine and worst being agents of the major political formations, Jubilee and Nasa. 

PLENARY MEETING

For instance, in the plenary meeting of the commission as the presidential election results started trickling in on Tuesday, one of the senior officials reportedly received a thorough dress-down.

The official was openly told off about his alleged clandestine meetings with the Jubilee Party bigwigs and using the same to rock the commission.

In the first briefing of the day on Wednesday, August 9, CEO Ezra Chiloba confirmed such a meeting taking place as he explained why IEBC had not been regularly updating the public as they had promised.

“Yesterday you are aware that during the projection of results we had a lengthy moment than usual and we thought different stakeholders needed to understand what was happening. So, we retreated to have a meeting. It was quite a lengthy meeting to build consensus on the same issues that were emerging in so far as results transmission was concerned,” he said.

During the stormy meeting, it is reported that a section of commissioners threatened to resign supposedly because the commission was not being transparent with the public on what was going on and more so on Nasa’s claims of hacking of the results transmission system.

INTIMIDATED

There were occasions the commissioners felt intimidated by the political class. Such concerns were expressed when Mr Muhoho Kenyatta, the brother of President Uhuru Kenyatta camped at the national tallying centre for several hours.

It was the same case when his nephew and private secretary Jomo Gecaga made frequent trips to the centre.

But it is the coming of the Deputy President William Ruto and Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga on Friday that crowned it all, sources in the commission said.

Coming at a time they were yet to conclude validation of votes, the presence of the individuals was construed as a way of telling them that they needed to hasten the process.

When he “stormed” the place, Mr Odinga was said to have been acting on information that IEBC was set to announce the presidential outcome without addressing the grievances he had earlier presented through Nasa’s chief agent Musalia Mudavadi.

Body language experts would have more stories to tell from Bomas. Numerous were the occasions electoral officials stepped out of the podium to pick calls, conversations one could easily tell they didn’t want anyone to eavesdrop on. Some were also bombarded with messages urging them to make one decision or the other.

Mr Chiloba is for instance said to have received a barrage of messages some not so kind to him. He was not alone.

TOP OFFICIALS

Nation has also learnt of the “serious” concerns that were raised within the commission of “unusual behaviour” of some two top officials.

Apparently one of the officials is reported to have formed a habit of throwing off his security aides as he drives himself to clandestine meetings with certain powerful people in government. 

“When he was appointed he was handed two cars – an official car and a chase car. But for some time he has been driving himself around town without a single security aide and sometimes appearing in office at odd hours,” an IEBC insider told Nation.

On the other hand, questions were being raised about the manner in which the second official wanted the commission to be lenient to Jubilee Party candidates who had infringed on the electoral code of conduct during the campaigns.

“Whenever it was a case involving a Jubilee candidate, (this official) would suggest that a reprimand was sufficient even if the evidence was enough for the candidate to be fined like others. Of course this raised serious questions why (this official) wanted the Jubilee candidates handled with kids gloves,” an IEBC insider intimated to the Nation.

Meanwhile, Nation also understands that one commissioner was living in fear after being singled out as a Nasa sympathiser and the source of the leaks from IEBC.

PUBLIC OUTRAGE

As expected, Mr Kenyatta’s win triggered public outrage from some strongholds of Mr Odinga pitting supporters against police who have been accused of using excess force with some deaths reported.

In their final tallies, IEBC declared President Kenyatta the winner of the presidential race with 8.2 million votes against Mr Odinga who garnered 6.8 million votes.

Nasa has disputed the results and accused the commission and Jubilee operatives of hacking into the results transmission system to rig in favour of President Kenyatta.

Nation has also independently got information that Jubilee Party agents and officials attempted to storm into the meeting Nasa leaders were having with the IEBC at Bomas on Thursday.

Nasa leaders, Mr Mudavadi, Mr Moses Wetang’ula, Mr James Orengo and Mr Johnston Muthama had gone to the Bomas of Kenya to deliver a letter to IEBC on the “authentic and legitimate result of the presidential election” before they released their tallies to the press.

During the brief standoff, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati reportedly told off the Jubilee leaders to request for and wait for their turn if they are interested in having a meeting with the commission.

“The chairman was adamant that the Jubilee officials would not be allowed into the meeting the commission was having with Nasa leaders and reminded them that they had afforded them a similar opportunity which Nasa was not part of,” the Nation learnt.