Chebukati resurfaces, insists 2022 polls results were the ‘most credible’
The former chairman of Kenya’s electoral commission Wafula Chebukati has come out to taunt the opposition over its continued claims of vote rigging in last year’s presidential election, wading into the controversy sparked recently by US Ambassador Meg Whitman’s remarks characterising the polls as the most credible in the country’s history.
Mr Chebukati, a divisive figure in Kenya hailed by President William Ruto as a hero and vilified by the opposition, took to social media on Thursday to state that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC conducted the election transparently.
“Fact: 99.9 percent of presidential result form were electronically transmitted to the public portal within 24 hours of polls,” he said in a tweet.
Read:Four things to know about Kenya’s vote dispute
Mr Chebukati has largely kept a low profile since leaving the electoral commission in January this year upon the expiry of a six-year term marred by his teams conducting two disputed presidential elections, including the infamous one of 2017 whose outcome was overturned by the Supreme Court in a landmark ruling.
The outcome of the 2022 presidential election also remains a touchy topic for the opposition, which maintains that its candidate’s victory was stolen and has called for a forensic audit of the electoral commission’s results transmission and vote tallying systems.
Former prime minister Raila Odinga, who lost to Dr Ruto by a narrow margin, reacted angrily to Ms Whitman’s remarks last week, calling her ‘the rogue ambassador’ and threatening to push for her recall.
His opposition Azimio One Kenya Alliance coalition has questioned the integrity of the results relied on by Mr Chebukati to declare President Ruto the winner on August 15, 2022, alleging there was unauthorised access to the electoral commission’s systems by some persons to manipulate the results in favour of the president.
The Supreme Court dismissed those claims and upheld Dr Ruto’s victory after hearing petitions filed by Mr Odinga and others challenging the results.
Read:Ruto won fair and square, Supreme Court rules
But the seven Supreme Court judges in a unanimous decision recommended administrative and policy reforms to secure the integrity of the electoral commission’s election technology and fix the governance mess that saw two factions of commissioners supporting opposing sides in court.
They advised that access to the electoral commission’s servers be restricted to staff and that servers supporting elections be separated from those used in running the day-to-day internal affairs.
Mr Odinga had alleged in his petition that there was access to the servers by some unauthorised persons, including one of the three Venezuelan nationals arrested by Kenyan detectives at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport reportedly in possession of election materials two weeks to the August 9, 2022 polls.
On the apparently dysfunctional governance at the electoral commission, the judges of the apex court said: “IEBC ought to effect formal internal guidelines that clearly delineate the policy, strategy, and oversight responsibility of the chairperson and the commissioners; and develop institutionalised guidelines on how to manage the separation of administrative and policy domains. The roles of the chairperson, commissioners, and the chief executive officer, other staff and third parties should be clearly set out in both the legislative and administrative edicts.”
An unprecedented court drama in a presidential petition hearing had featured one faction comprising Mr Chebukati and two of his colleagues defending the results and the other one led by then vice-chairman, Juliana Cherera, swearing affidavits discrediting the results.
Read:Petition against ‘IEBC 4’ off to a stormy start
The Cherera faction, which had four of the seven commissioners, had days earlier dismissed the results as opaque at a tense press conference.
The electoral commission is currently in leadership limbo after Mr Chebukati and two commissioners retired in January this year and the earlier forced exits of the Cherera Four. Ms Cherera and the only other former commissioner, Irene Masit, have since gone into exile fearing for their safety back in Kenya.