Kenya’s president has suspended four election commissioners who disputed his victory in August’s polls, and formed a panel to investigate whether they should be removed, the presidency said.
William Ruto’s move on Friday came after the national assembly asked the president to form a tribunal against commissioners Juliana Cherera, Justus Nyang’aya, Irene Masit and Francis Wanderi.
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The quartet had questioned Ruto’s election win for defying maths and logic, at the time saying they could not support the “opaque” vote count.
Ruto received 50.49 percent of the votes cast on August 9, narrowly beating his rival, Raila Odinga, who managed 48.85 percent.
Friday’s move has opened a new battlefront between the government and the opposition, and Odinga has dismissed it as a plan by Ruto to rig the next elections in 2027.
“The events in parliament yesterday on the formula of appointing IEBC (Kenya’s electoral commission) and the hounding of the four commissioners have nothing to do with integrity, but about 2027. Ruto wants to rig the 2027 election in 2022. We should not allow this to happen,” Odinga said on Friday.
President Ruto has also formed a tribunal chaired by High Court Judge Aggrey Muchelule to investigate the commissioners and report any constitutional violations or “gross misconduct” they may have committed.
Days after the election, the four commissioners had held a parallel news conference to say they could not be party to the results being announced live on television by the chairman and two other commissioners.
The dispute proceeded to the Supreme Court, which upheld the election of Ruto and rejected the arguments advanced by the four about the tallying process being opaque.
The court found that a “boardroom rupture” between the commissioners had undermined public confidence, but it was not enough to invalidate the election.
It, however, called for reforms in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).