Raila fires first shot

It will not end well” this is Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga’s warning to President William Ruto on the case against four election agency commissioners.

Raila spoke amidst a standoff between Azimio and Kenya Kwanza members of the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Commission (JLAC) hearing an ouster case against Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners Juliana Cherera, Francis Wandera, Justus Abonyo and Irene Masit.

The opposition leader warned Ruto that they will not sit back and watch him take the country back to the dark days of the KANU regime.

“This matter is trivial and vindictive and Kenyan will not take this lying down. Division among Kenyans is what UDA wants, we will not give them that and will have grave consequences. We are here to sound a warning. No one should lie to this regime that we will sit back and watch them take us back to the Nyayo regime by another name,” Raila warned, while speaking to the media at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga foundation in Nairobi.

“The injustice implicated among the IEBC commissioners is making a massive pushback to Ruto and those who think like him. We call on our Houses of parliament of act as guarantors for the rule of law and stop being enablers of the constitutional revenge mission, they have been deployed on against the four commissioners. This is the mission the National Assembly has been deployed on,” faulted Raila.

He termed the four petitions before the committee as politically instigated and a vengeful onslaught on the commissioners despite the Supreme Court in the presidential election petition not finding them of liable.

Raila made reference to Article 259 of the constitution, which states: a member of a commission or the holder of an independent office should not be liable to anything done in good faith in the performance of the function of the office.

“Summoning these commissioners is usurping the role of the tribunal. None of the commissioners will honour the summons. This probe is politically motivated and part of Ruto’s continued witch hunt and revenge mission against the commissioners after the August General election.

He added, “We advise the commissioners to continue discharging their duties upholding the rule of law. Instead of the UDA government focusing of their delivery to Kenyans, it focuses on punishing the four commissioners. We urge our MPs to not be enablers to these acts”

Earlier, MPs differed openly in the presence of Raila, Wiper leader Kalonzo and Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua at county Hall on whether the commissioners should be summoned by the committee hearing the four petitions seeking their removal from IEBC.

The JLAC committee is chaired by Tharaka MP Murugara George Gitonga and has 15 members, Azimio coalition has 7 members. The petitions are by Republican Party, Rev Dennis Ndwiga Nthumbi, Geoffrey Lang’at, and Steve Gerry Owuor.

The Azimio MPs argued the committee’s action amounts to a travesty of justice and usurping the powers of the tribunal expected to probe their ouster bid. Their lawyers demanded to be furnished with claims leveled against their clients before the public hearing could officially commence.

Minority Whip Junet Mohammed and Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang, both members of the committee took on the chair, insisting to be allowed to table their dissent, the same argument advanced by the lawyers of the commissioners.

Karua and Kalonzo also waded on the matter, accusing the president of being in breach of the law in appointing a selection panel to recruit IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati and commissioners Moya Bolu and Prof Abdi Guliye’s replacement next January.

“Ruto is acting outside the law. Six months to the end of the term of the IEBC commissioners, a selection panel should be in place and Chebukati and the two commissioners should have proceeded on terminal leave by 1st of November. Instead, Ruto has retained them and is busy pushing for an amendment to the IEBC Act to change the selection panel composition to create a commission after his heart,” faulted Karua.

She continued, “The president’s action is illegal and persuaded by the upcoming by-elections to convoluted results as was the case with the August General Election. I urge Kenyans not to drop vigilance as we would create a ruthless dictator in this regime. Time is up.”

Karua claimed that the delays in occasioning the recruitment of the IEBC commissioners’ replacement is a plot to block the vice chairperson, from assuming the role of chair in an acting capacity.

“This witch hunt directed at the four commissioners is to divert attention and take away the interest from the outgoing three in January. this is a travesty of Justice and Kenyans must stand up and defend their rights. 6.9 m Kenyans stood by Azimio and the rogue three commissioners must go home who betrayed their cause.”

Karua stressed on the importance of recruiting people of integrity who serve all without discrimination and not Ruto’s puppets.

Kalonzo on his part didn’t mince his words, he termed the move to remove the Cherera four as the height of impunity, politically motivated and persecution.

“What we observed at county hall is sad. The happenings unfolding at JLAC showed the MPs were following a script. It reminds of a book on South Africa and Apartheid ‘cry my beloved country. The population is now struggling with the effects of drought, GMO menace and politics without public participation. I am happy the church is now speaking up,” said Kalonzo.

He continued, “GMOs is going to kill us all with cancer. I don’t like things that are politically motivated, just like impeachment and the attempt by Kenya Kwanza to take over the control of parliament. Our MPs must stand firm.”

Azimio spokesperson Makau Mutua also added his voice on the issue he termed as very grave, saying the events at the JLAC committee are disheartening.

“This is destroying this country. The long qual pulling in different places, like the buying of MPs loyalty and silencing their oversight role is wrong. The Supreme court exonerated the four commissioners and what is happening now is a pure witch hunt. We ask our supporters to be vigilant and stand for the democracy of this country.

In the petitions, the Republican Party accuses the four commissioners of violating the Constitution by rejecting the results.

The commissioners are faulted to have failed to meet the integrity test of the office they hold, and brought dishonor and indignity to the nation contrary to Article 71 of the Constitution.

The petitioner also says the officials acted in a manner that demean the office they hold contrary to Article 75 of the Constitution.

Rev Nthumbi on his part, accuses the commissioners of serious violation of the law, gross misconduct and incompetence in his petition.

He says the four commissioners demonstrated partiality and biased conduct in agreeing in a proposal to alter the results in favour of one candidate or to force a runoff, both actions he said were against the Constitution and set laws.

Nthumbi also argues that the commissioners had erred in law by “acting in liaison with one faction in a presidential election” and that they had given in to proposals by the National Security Advisory Council (NSAC) to review the results, which they said was against the law.

For Language and Owuor, they make the same allegations against the four commissioners, citing their rejection of the presidential results, a move they said threatened the cohesion of the country, as well as the independence of the commission.

The committee has schedule Thursday till next Tuesday to receive views from petitioners, the commissioners and the public and table a report in the House for consideration.

Upon tabling of the committee report, the House will have 10 days to decide whether the petition has valid grounds for the removal of one or all of the commissioners. If the counts are substantiated, the House will approve the establishment of a tribunal by the president.

“The tribunal shall investigate the matter expeditiously, report on the facts and make a binding recommendation to the President, who shall act within 30 days,” reads Article 251 (6).

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