Kenya: President Ruto claims there was plot to murder former IEBC chief Chebukati

By Victor Abuso
Posted on Thursday, 19 January 2023 14:14

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati announces the result in Kenya's presidential election at the IEBC National Tallying Centre at the Bomas of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya August 15, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Kenya's President William Ruto claims there was a plot by powerful individuals in the last government under Uhuru Kenyatta to abduct and kill the now-retired Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairperson Wafula Chebukati, in an effort to block his victory during the 2022 Presidential elections.

Without providing evidence of the claims at a meeting with the leaders of the Independent offices at State House, Nairobi, on Tuesday, Ruto also said the plot was approved by what he termed as the ‘highest office’, with an aim to paralyse the commission, and get friendly commissioners to announce his opponent Raila Odinga as the winner.

“We know that there was a direct attempt to abduct Chebukati and murder him so that the commission would be paralysed,” Ruto said.

He also claims that Chebukati and two other commissioners, Abdi Guliye and Moya Bolu, were offered huge sums of money to change the Presidential results. But Ruto referred to them as heroes since they rejected the offer.

“It was a hard, cold and lonely time. The threats were dire. The promised rewards lavish, and the pressure relentless,” President Ruto said.

Before retiring after six years as the electoral agency boss, Chebukati said he faced intimidation and harassment while on the job but still managed to deliver a free, fair, and credible election that was nonetheless disputed by his four colleagues, led by his deputy Juliana Cherera who resigned last year.

Opposition responds to Ruto

Politicians from Raila’s Azimio la Umoja One Kenya, have heavily criticised and dismissed  Ruto’s claims, as they continue to say their victory was stolen by Chebukati during the August polls.

A close ally of Raila, Narok Senator  Ledama Olekina, responded by asking President Ruto to form a Commission of Inquiry to investigate what happened, and also look at the last two elections in 2013 and 2017. 

“Set up a commission of inquiry and extend it to cover the last two elections! People are glorifying Chebukati as if he is a saint,” he tweeted.

Edwin Sifuna, the Secretary General of Raila’s  Orange Democratic Movement Party, terms Ruto’s remarks as grave accusations and wants him to provide evidence to back his allegations.

Provide evidence

“I’m hoping the people making them (accusations) will appear before the yet-to-be-formed commission of inquiry and provide evidence,” said Sifuna, who is also the Nairobi Senator.

Recently, Raila disputed claims made by President Ruto that the army had been involved in harassing the electoral officials in an effort to change the poll results.

“President Uhuru [Kenyatta] government wanted a free and fair election. It never interfered,” Raila said.

He describes Chebukati as a criminal, who committed crimes against humanity, and should be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court for bungling the Presidential poll.

‘Careless and dangerous’

Herman Manyora, a Nairobi-based political analyst, describes Ruto’s claims as political, careless, and dangerous as the country heals after a divisive political period.

“The utterances were unfortunate. Ruto is seeking political sympathy, [but] he is dividing the country,” Manyora says.

Manyora adds that if the Kenyatta government wanted to kidnap Chebukati, it would have easily done that, and what Ruto should do is set up an independent committee to establish the truth.

“Let Ruto form an inquiry to know what happened,” he says.

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