The repeat presidental election will be managed by five newly elevated poll IEBC section managers, all reporting directly to the poll agency chairman, Wafula Chebukati, who will double up as head of voter identification and results transmission technology.
In surprise changes made even before the details of the Supreme Court ruling on the section heads responsible for messing up the August 8 presidential election, Mr Chebukati picked a project team in which he sidestepped all those that NASA leaders had demanded be removed from poll management.
In doing so, he shoved aside the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) CEO Ezra Chiloba and broke up and shared out the key functions of his office – chief manager, operations, logistics, ICT, and tallying.
The changes, believed to have been made to raise the credibility of the fresh election while satisfying NASA’s conditions for participating in the new race, will have a big impact in the way it will be managed since it will be Kenya’s first in which the electoral body’s secretariat will be playing either an observer or completely peripheral role.
Chebukati formed the parallel management team to oversee the October 17 repeat elections after resistance to attempts to restructure the current secretariat.
He invoked the powers in his capacity as the national returning officer for the presidential election and in accordance with Section 38 of the Elections Act (2011) to appoint the officials to serve in a project team for purposes of the fresh presidential election.
The drastic action came after meetings in which reportedly divided commissioners failed to reach a compromise on reorganising the IEBC secretariat headed by Mr Chiloba following the Supreme Court verdict.
Instructively, Chebukati made the decision that essentially sidestepped Chiloba before the judges released the full judgment detailing the irregularities that informed the nullification of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory following a successful petition by Opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Those that Chebukati picked yesterday include Project Coordinator Marjan Hussein Marjan, who is the current deputy CEO. Marjan will take over most of Chiloba’s roles and will Dr Sidney Namulungu, who will now play the role of Betty Nyabuto-Sungura. The new head of Logistics is Nancy Kariuki, who will take up the role formerly played by Director of Elections Immaculate Kassait. The new head of training has been named as Bernard Misati Moseti.
The head of ICT will be Albert Gogo, who, too, id under the direct supervision of Chebukati. Gogo will take the role of James Muhati.
Silas Rotich will become the head of the National Tallying Centre. Salome Oyugi will be in charge of legal services, replacing Praxedes Tororey
“The appointment takes immediate effect and will last for a period of three months. As the national returning officer, I wish to assure all Kenyans of my commitment to ensure that this fresh presidential election is done in accordance with the Constitution, the relevant laws, and that it reflects the sovereign will of the Kenyan people,” Chebukati said in a statement.
At the same time, Chebukati gazetted Uhuru and Raila as the only candidates for the October 17 elections. In a notice published yesterday, he also announced that the official campaign period will begin today and close on October 15, 48 hours to the elections, as required by law.
The new changes mean that Chiloba and his team will be sidelined and comes after sharp divisions emerged in IEBC over attempts to reorganise its secretariat.
Highly credible sources indicate that the commission is divided on the proposal to send home some of its key staff who are accused of bungling last month’s elections.
On Monday, IEBC held a stormy plenary meeting where the agenda to discuss the contemplated changes was shelved after Chebukati unsuccessfully attempted to introduce the topic.
Chebukati got only the support of one commissioner while the other five either kept quiet or asked that the matter be put aside as there was no basis to reorganise the secretariat.
On Friday, Chebukati told journalists that his team shall conduct a clean-up of the secretariat and get rid of those responsible for bungling the polls. He also invited the Director of Public Prosecutions to conduct criminal investigations.
During the meeting on Monday, the issue of staff reorganisation was lined up as agenda number five but aborted midway after stiff opposition.
“Some of the commissioners just told the chairman that we have to wait for the full verdict of the Supreme Court to effect any changes. They insisted IEBC is an independent body and can’t be pushed to implement any reforms by outside forces,” a member of the commission said.
The commissioners had resolved to hold meetings yesterday with both parties for the sake of courtesy and openness. The two meetings were to explain to the political groups the reasoning behind the setting of the election date.
The commissioners reached out to Jubilee through Raphael Tuju and NASA through Musalia Mudavadi and set meetings for 2pm and 2.30pm receptively.
The meetings were, however, cancelled after commissioners advised against them and a statement explaining why October 17 was chosen released instead.