IEBC pleads for calm as it readies to announce winner

Friday August 11 2017

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati gives an update on presidential tallying at Bomas of Kenya

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati gives an update on presidential tallying at Bomas of Kenya on August 10, 2017. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JUSTUS WANGA
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The electoral commission is set to announce the winner of Tuesday’s presidential contest today.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati said he expects the 47 county returning officers to present all 34B forms, which contain the results, by noon today before the announcement is made, ending four days of anxiety that has seen businesses remain closed and movement restricted in some parts of the country since the day of the poll.

“We have asked all our officers to send in the forms by 11am tomorrow. Once we’re done with the validation, we will immediately tell Kenyans who their next president is,” the chairman said Thursday.

VIOLENCE

But even as Mr Chebukati prepares for the big announcement, Nasa’s unilateral declaration that their candidate Raila Odinga had beaten President Uhuru Kenyatta by more than one million votes has jolted the commission.

Mr Chebukati led his team into a meeting for about two hours Thursday evening after the announcement by Nasa, missing a press briefing that had earlier been set for the same time.

POLARISE

The Daily Nation understands the commission was concerned that the move by the opposition would polarise the country at a time pockets of violence have been witnessed among some of those disagreeing with figures showing Mr Kenyatta has won the election.

Before dashing to Westlands to join Mr Odinga and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka for the press conference, Nasa’s head of campaign Musalia Mudavadi, in the company of Siaya Senator-elect James Orengo and former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama, met commission officials at the Bomas of Kenya.

EVIDENCE

They reportedly confronted Mr Chebukati with what they called “hard evidence” of how the IEBC system had allegedly been breached by their Jubilee opponents.

They said they will release a demand letter they handed the commission detailing the grievances they want addressed before the hotly contested State House race is decided.

It’s not just the commission that was jolted by the opposition’s standpoint; US ambassador Robert Godec, who was at the national tallying centre at the time of Nasa’s announcement, could be seen in an animated phone call outside the main auditorium.

POLICE

While we could not tell who was on the other end of the phone, the conversation appeared to have been related to the latest development because, once it ended, he went to meet commission officials and left shortly after.

Mr Godec’s former boss, Secretary John Kerry, is in the country observing the elections.

President Kenyatta’s private secretary Jomo Gecaga was also on the phone about four metres away.

Equally, anti-riot police and their bosses rallied around the big screens mounted outside the auditorium to follow the proceedings, their faces concluding that this meant more work for them.

UHURU AHEAD

The ongoing validation of forms 34B together with 34A, which contain presidential results from constituencies, has returned few discrepancies with what has already been published in the commission’s portal, giving Mr Kenyatta a huge lead over his main challenger. 

Nasa insists that the figures displayed in the public portal of the IEBC’s website are different from the actual figures from the field in the commission’s possession.

They say their source is an insider in the electoral body.

TENSION

Before the shocking twist of events where Mr Mudavadi fell short of crowning Mr Odinga president, Mr Chebukati had given the exercise a clean bill of health, saying it was credible even in the eyes of the world. 

“We have done our best to ensure the elections are credible. Our preliminary report shows that hacking was attempted but didn’t succeed,” he said in response to the hacking claim made earlier by Nasa.

He called on political leaders to avoid sentiments that could stoke tension in the country.

PLOT

The opposition has dismissed figures indicating Mr Kenyatta is poised for a resounding victory and has accused Mr Chiloba of being part of a scheme to rig in the President for a second term in office. Mr Chiloba has dismissed the claim.

In their final rally at Uhuru Park last Saturday, Mr Musyoka sought to associate Mr Chiloba  with a plot to tinker with the presidential vote.

Increasingly, IEBC bosses are finding themselves in the same spot their predecessors were after the 2013 presidential election which Mr Odinga again disputed and challenged in the Supreme Court.

The case was thrown out and Mr Kenyatta’s victory validated.