In Summary
  • Almost entirely, it is Mr Chebukati who will determine if peace will hold before or after the election.

  • Six times since the Supreme Court annulled the presidential election on September 1, Mr Chebukati’s actions have been publicly questioned by fellow commissioners, politicians and Parliament.

  • Mr Chebukati’s authority has also been challenged internally on, among others, a decision to fire IT officials, whom the commission’s chief executive Ezra Chiloba a week later said were still in office.

Now, more than ever before, the destiny of Kenya rests in the hands of one man —Mr Wafula Wanyonyi Chebukati — the self-effacing chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

Kenyans are watching with hope and anxiety how the Trans Nzoia-born lawyer will steer the nation through the repeat elections slated for October 26.

Almost entirely, it is Mr Chebukati who will determine if peace will hold before or after the election.

Mr Chebukati has, however, in the recent past, appeared like an isolated man, a lone general leading sharply divided troops, pushing him to hold back on making make-or-break decisions.

Six times since the Supreme Court annulled the presidential election on September 1, Mr Chebukati’s actions have been publicly questioned by fellow commissioners, politicians and Parliament — with reports of even more acrimonious disagreements in private.

UNDER SIEGE

This has either exposed his indecisiveness or painted the picture of a man under siege from within the commission and a country craving direction from him.

The quick move to name October 17 as the date of the repeat poll, only to move it to October 26, disrupted other important national programmes such as the school calendar.

It also later emerged that in settling on the date, Mr Chebukati had not consulted the polls technology provider French firm OT-Morpho, which wrote back to him, saying it needed more time to get ready.

Even though the Supreme Court found no criminal culpability on Mr Chebukati and his officials, he goes into the annals of Kenya’s electoral history as the first and the only chairman — so far — to have his results annulled.

Mr Chebukati’s authority has also been challenged internally on, among others, a decision to fire IT officials, whom the commission’s chief executive Ezra Chiloba a week later said were still in office.

Externally, Mr Chebukati has been questioned on the setting up of a special team to manage the poll and for appearing before a parliamentary committee alone.

ELECTION LAWS

Mr Chebukati is also running a commission that is leaking like a sieve.

Last week, apparently aware of the differences between Mr Chebukati and a majority of the commissioners, an ad-hoc committee of Parliament working on election amendment laws sent him away and asked him to either go back with a signed memorandum with minutes, or the rest of the commissioners.

Apparently, the MPs had known that the details of Mr Chebukati’s presentation had not been agreed on by the rest of the commissioners.

On Wednesday, the commission leaked out an unsigned statement giving directions on the October 26 poll after the High Court ruling ordered the admission of Thirdway Alliance candidate Ekuru Aukot and the dramatic withdrawal from the race of Nasa’s Raila Odinga on Tuesday. The Nation has learnt that the statement was leaked out after Mr Chebukati insisted on further consultations even after the statement had been put to a vote.

TAKE CHARGE

On Thursday, trade unionist Francis Atwoli appealed to Mr Chebukati to “take charge” at the commission.

“The IEBC chairman must be assertive as he is heading a constitutional commission charged with responsibilities of guiding our elections,” the Central Organisation of Trade Unions  secretary-general told journalists in Nairobi.

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