Electoral commission CEO Ezra Chiloba has been sent on a three-month compulsory leave, a decision that has left the electoral body sharply divided.
Mr Chiloba was served the leave notice on Saturday pending investigations into unspecified “procurement issues”.
The letter was a directive of IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati, backed by two other commissioners, a source at the commission with an understanding of the issues but who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation, told the Nation on Monday.
During a meeting on Friday, the source said, most of the commissioners, led by the vice chairperson Consolata Maina, walked out in protest, terming the grounds set for Mr Chiloba’s suspension as unjustified.
Contacted on the matter, IEBC commissioner Paul Kurgat termed as “unprocedural” the suspension of Mr Chiloba.
Dr Kurgat, who opposed the proposed suspension during the IEBC plenary meeting on Friday, said the move was ill-advised.
"There are matters of procedure which were not followed, and our timing on this was bad," he told the Nation on phone.
At the time of Mr Chiloba's suspension, Dr Kurgat said, external auditors were almost finishing looking at IEBC’s last financial accounts for 2017 elections.
"Now how do you suspend him at the middle of this? People might have the wrong idea that we are hiding something," said Dr Kurgat.
Another commissioner who did not wish to go on record said Mr Chebukati ambushed the commissioners with the proposal to suspend Mr Chiloba after the plenary meeting on Friday.
After all matters in the agenda had been discussed, the commissioner explained, Mr Chebukati asked Mr Chiloba to step out.
He then whipped out his proposal to suspend the CEO over procurement issues that have so far remained unclear.
The proposal was immediately rejected by vice chair Connie Nkatha Maina, who, out of protest, is said to have left the meeting.
Dr Kurgat would follow immediately after pointing out that the motion was a substantive one, and should have been in the agenda, and discussed widely before taking action.