Kenya 2023: Ruto and Raila’s camps differ on how to probe 2022 presidential vote

By Victor Abuso
Posted on Thursday, 12 January 2023 12:19

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials work on their computers at the Nairobi county tallying center at Moi International Sports Center in Kasarani, Nairobi, on August 13, 2022. (Photo by Patrick MEINHARDT / AFP)

Allies of President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga are both demanding an inquiry into last year’s August presidential polls. The focus will be on the events surrounding the declaration of the final results that in turn divided the electoral agency.

Four commissioners led by the Vice Chairperson, Juliana Cherera had declined to recognise the results that were announced by Chairman Wafula Chebukati and two other commissioners that declared Ruto the winner.

Since then, the two camps have differed on who should appoint and sit at the inquiry, and how the inquiry should be conducted. Ruto’s camp wants the President himself to do the appointment of the members who will be involved in the inquiry.

“We have to know what happened. The President should form the inquiry soon,” says Owen Baya, Deputy Majority Leader in  Parliament, a close ally of Ruto.

For Raila’s allies, Ruto should not be involved in any appointment of the inquiry. Instead, they say a non-partisan team should be formed and headed by an independent inquiry leader who they suggest should be a foreigner known internationally who would be accepted by both sides.

“President Ruto is an interested party on this matter, he cannot appoint the commission,” says John Mbadi, a close ally of Raila.

Mbadi has also sponsored a motion in the National Assembly seeking the formation of a committee made of Parliamentarians to probe the inquiry.

Ruto, Raila take on the audit

President Ruto says although he supports the audit and even accuses the former administration of involving the army to force the electoral boss Chebukati to sabotage the will of the people, his government is hesitant to start the inquiry soon.

Ruto describes the events that happened a few hours before he was declared a winner as horrible, with a promise that the whole story will someday come out, but at present, he has more pressing matters to deal with.

“I’m going slow on this matter of inquiry, but I promise that the story will be told one day,” says the President.

Raila, who still maintains that his victory was stolen by Chebukati – whom he describes as a criminal who should be prosecuted by ICC at the Hague – says an independent audit will help build Kenyans’ confidence to participate in the next polls in 2027.

“We want an audit of these results so that Kenyans can have confidence come 2027. We want the truth,” Raila says.

Reforms at the electoral body

Political analyst Brian Wanyama tells The Africa Report that an independent inquiry should be a major element in solving the challenge of tallying presidential votes that occurs at each general election.

“Kenyans want an inquiry that will give solutions to electoral challenges in their country,” Wanyama says.

He also warns that if the inquiry is left to politicians, the truth might never be known.

“Let’s have a respected foreign expert without interest to lead the inquiry,” he adds.

Kenyans want an inquiry that will give solutions to electoral challenges in their country.

Since the 1990s after multi-party politics were introduced, the electoral commissions in Kenya have been accused by the opposition party or coalition of failing to conduct a free and fair presidential election.

After the disputed 2007 presidential election that led to deadly violence, South African judge Johann Kriegler led an independent inquiry that found the electoral agency had lacked the autonomy and functional capacity to discharge its constitutional mandate of conducting a free and fair election because of the composition of its commissioners.

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