President William Ruto has suspended four embattled electoral commissioners pending further investigations into their conduct.
In a gazette notice on Friday, December 2, the President also appointed a nine-member tribunal led by Court of Appeal Judge Aggrey Muchelule to inquire into four petitions seeking removal from office of IEBC vice-chair Juliana Cherera and commissioners Irene Masit, Justus Nyang’aya and Francis Wanderi.
Other members of the tribunal are Carolyne Kamende Daudi, Linda Gakii Kiome, Mathew Njaramba Nyabena and Col. (Rtd.) Saeed Khamis Saeed.
Kibet Kirui Emmanuel and Irene Tunta were named as joint secretaries of the tribunal.
The tribunal's lead counsel will be Peter Munge Murage who will be assisted by Zamzam Abdi Abib.
"The mandate of the Tribunal shall be to consider the Petition for the removal of (1) Juliana Whonge Cherera, (2) Francis Mathenge Wanderi, (3) Irene Cherop Masit and (4) Justus Abonyo Nyang’aya from office as members of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and to inquire into the allegations therein," President Ruto said.
The tribunal is expected to prepare and submit a report and its recommendations to the Head of State within 30 days.
Yesterday, the National Assembly's Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) committee chaired by Tharaka MP George Murugara recommended the suspension of the officials after adopting the petitions that called for the ouster of the commissioners who rejected the presidential results announced by IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati in August.
In its report, JLAC resolved that the petitions, filed by the Republican Party, Rev. Dennis Ndwiga Nthumbi, Geoffrey Lang’at and Owuor Steve Gerry, together with materials in support of their removal, be submitted to the President for further action noting that there were sufficient grounds for their removal.
“That the House resolves that his Excellency the President appoints a tribunal to deal with the matter in accordance with Article 251(5) of the constitution. That considering the matters to which the petitions herein relate, the House resolves that his Excellency the President suspends the commissioners pending the determination of the tribunal,” read the report in part.
“That the House finds that the petitions discloses the grounds for the removal from office of Ms Julina Cherera, Ms Irene Cherop Masit, Mr Francis Mathenge Wanderi and Mr Justus Abonyo Nyang’aya as commissioners of IEBC,” the report added.
The tabling of the report, however, sparked intense debate with opposition MPs storming out of the House saying the process was a sham.
They threatened to call countrywide demonstrations in solidarity with the commissioners.
Led by the Minority leader Opiyo Wandayi and Minority Whip Junet Mohamed, the lawmakers maintained that the Azimio coalition would not take part in a process that “negates the spirit of the Constitution”.
The four rejected the presidential results announced by Chebukati on August 15, claiming the final tallying of the results was opaque.
The four also filed affidavits supporting Azimio la Umoja- One Kenya coalition's unsuccessful petition challenging Ruto’s win at the Supreme Court.