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February 19, 2018

JP endgame is to scuttle rerun

With the IEBC in tatters, is the October 17 presidential election viable? The IEBC is damaged to the core. It is a house of tumbling cards cannibalising itself, and I know who the puppeteer is. The Supreme Court ruling that the IEBC committed irregularities and illegalities has opened the floodgates of its self-mutilation. The Wafula Chebukati dossier unwittingly amounts to a confession of the IEBC’s sojourn into electoral fraud.

The dossier starts innocently, questioning the reliability of the results announced by Chebukati. In self-doubt he asks why 595 polling stations failed to transmit presidential results. We may never know the number of those votes, in whose favour they were and whether they would have tilted the presidential vote.

Then more tantalising scenes of mischief unfold; Jubilee’s chief agent and former Energy minister sacked under a cloud of corruption allegations Davis Chirchir, who also served as a commissioner in the disgraced ECK of Samuel Kivuitu, accessed the IEBC server for whatever mischief. Link this to the sabotage of KIEMS, which stopped operating on August 5, three days to the August 8 election. 

KIEMS couldn’t detect anyone, double or triple voting, while a fraudulent account of the chairman was created to alter almost 10,000 Forms 34A and disable 10,336 polling stations from transmitting the forms. This means 4.6 million votes are unaccounted for.

The chairman needn’t wonder why this massive failure of devices. The answer is criminal acts led to monumental sabotage of democracy. The French suppliers of KIEMS are facing a nightmare given the tough foreign anti-corruption regime.

The dossier is incomplete without mention of Al Ghurair, which ignored the approved security features on ballots such as serial numbers and water marks. It did not only contravene contractual obligations, but Kenya’s electoral laws. The taxpayer coughed Sh20 billion for fake documents, which render the election nugatory. 

Nearly Sh1 billion was allegedly spent on satellite phones that were never used. The money could have been shared ChickenGate-style. The germane question is, were they really delivered? No doubt the MFI company will also find itself with some explaining to do on why paid-for printing and scanning machines weren’t delivered. 

NASA may celebrate its vindication and the Supreme Court can afford a smile against Uhuru’s tirade, but there is more to the charade at the IEBC. It may seem its pro-reform and anti-reform elements are against each other. Me thinks not. The wrangling is externally generated.

Jubilee's rigging tricks have been exposed and exhausted. It stands no chance on October 17. With the Chebukati dossier, the tantrums against the Supreme Court are muted. So why not precipitate a crisis in the IEBC and render it fatally unable to organise the rerun?

Under the law, an acting President can only handover to a duly elected President. If you ensure the IEBC fails to conduct the rerun, the incumbent remains acting President for posterity.

Consider this flouting of the Constitution; a temporary President assumes powers he doesn’t have to convene Parliament, and you can predict the future. He isn’t the Commander-in-Chief but can take a Guard of Honour at the 'official' opening of Parliament.

Fast forward to post-October 17; Uhuru is still acting President, Parliament is in session and has dismantled the IEBC and formed a new one. Concurrently it has cannibalised the Judiciary and proposed three years gestation for the new IEBC to be on its feet to conduct any election. Of course, the opposition is crying foul. Three years means the 2022 election is brought forward to 2021. Uhuru need not run; he has served his two terms and paves way for Ruto. Raila can’t run as this is a new election not a rerun, and the NASA agreement bars him.

A refurbished Court of Appeal would have ruled there was no presidential election using the Supreme Court’s pending detailed exposé. Uhuru would have mockingly invited a desperate NASA to form a caretaker government (because that is what 'you' wanted) to last until a new IEBC is ready to conduct elections. NASA is willing but the temptation is a poisoned chalice. It demands that the caretaker government be led by anybody but the protagonists – UhuRuto and Raila-Kalonzo. It’s a stalemate and time is running out while Uhuru enjoys the trappings of power.

 

*****

On Monday, the President let it be known Jubilee will change the Constitution. Uhuru may fancy a referendum in 2019 to “iron out sticking issues” in the Constitution. This has two interwoven threads; one, an Uhuru presidency means removal of presidential term limits. DP Ruto is in for a nightmare if he dreams he’ll succeed someone sealing a life presidency. Two, the Judiciary will be panel beaten into submission. The Supreme Court would be expunged by a Jubilee parliamentary majority.

 

 

Communications, publications and conflict management specialist, University of Nairobi

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