What appears to be new found love between William Ruto and Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati’s team is already causing jitters ahead of 2022 general elections.
There are growing fears among opposition chief Raila Odinga’s team that the IEBC is warming up for what has been described as dirty games similar to the events witnessed in the last general elections that gave birth to repeat elections.
It is the Macdonald Mariga factor in Kibra constituency race that triggered fresh agitation from Raila allies for an overhaul of the country’s electoral body after the former soccer star was finally cleared by Chebukati despite an early decision by the IEBC to block him.
When the IEBC returning officer Beatrice Muli declared that the former Harambee Stars footballer did not meet requirements after a discovery that his name was missing from the register of voters, she was purely acting on the guidance of the IEBC legal team.
But a defiant Chebukati led a team of two commissioners, Abdi Guliye and Boys Molu in unexpected declaration that the former soccer ace was indeed a registered voter, to the surprise of many who believed it would be a repeat of lawyer Kethi Kilonzo scenario.
The current Chebukati team has only Guliye and Molu after commissioner Roselyne Akombe resigned days before the repeat of October 26 2017 presidential election.
Vice chairperson Connie Nkatha, commissioners Margaret Mwachanya and Paul Kurgat also left in a huff.
“The complainant is duly registered as a voter. The respondent’s decision of September 10 2019, declining the nomination of the complainant on account that he was not registered as a voter is hereby set aside,” said Chebukati.
The decision rattled Raila team which projected possibilities of future foul play by the IEBC and the only remedy according to Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo was to sweep the commission clean at the top level.
However, what many did not know is that the action by the Chebukati team to clear Mariga was aimed at appeasing the DP as well as laying grounds for events that would later follow in parliament where Ruto allies strongly backed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Amendment Bill, 2019.
It therefore did not come as a surprise when 69 pro-Ruto MPs passed a new law that seeks to guide the hiring of electoral commissioners ahead of 2022 general elections.
Weekly Citizen has established that the Bill was dangled as a central weapon by Ruto team to armtwist Chebukati team into clearing
Mariga since Kibra race has been widely treated as a litmus test for Raila-Ruto 2022 supremacy.
Well aware of the pending voting in the august house, Chebukati opted to appease Ruto by ensuring that Mariga’s name remained on the ballot box through thick and thin as this was available opportunity to extend his stay in office, on a give and take basis.
MPs allied to opposition leader Raila rejected the Bill by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee with sole the intention of sending home the current commissioners.
It is not clear whether the ODM leader would maximise on his current good relationship with Uhuru Kenyatta to persuade the head of state not to sign the Bill into law.
Observers are quick to point out that singing of the Bill into law by the president would be a major blow for Raila and the only option Uhuru is left with is to return the Bill to the national assembly as a matter of saving the face of his handshake partner.
The logic behind such a move is that, it would be an opportunity for the president to rally his perceived MPs into rejecting the Bill as opposed to the first incident when lawmakers from his backyard of Mt Kenya were split during the voting