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Ruto hits back at dissident electoral commissioners

Suspending the dissidents is likely to be the first move in a prolonged fight over control of the commission

President William Ruto has suspended the four members of the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) who disowned the results which saw him elected in August in a move that will trigger a new battle for control of the organisation (AC Vol 63 No 17, Election chief proclaims Ruto victory but most of his commissioners dispute it).

IEBC commissioners Juliana Cherera, Justus Nyang'aya, Irene Masit and Francis Wanderi will remain out of office pending investigation by a tribunal chaired by Justice Aggrey Muchelule.

The move follows a series of tweets by President Ruto on 25 November in which he described the commissioners as 'rogue officials'.  It could entrench divisions over the politicised and partisan commission (AC Vol 63 No 23, Ruto and Odinga loyalists battle over election body).

The four are not going without a fight, stating via their legal team that they will not co-operate with the tribunal unless Ruto explains the statements which, they say, effectively pre-judge the process.

Azimio's  Parliamentary Group meeting attended by Raila Odinga and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, described the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) hearings against the four IEBC commissioners as a 'lynch mob, a hired hit squad and an illegality with a predetermined position.'

The four dissident commissioners were appointed by Uhuru Kenyatta last September and their seven-year term runs until September 2027, weeks after the next scheduled presidential election. That meant a majority of the seven-member commission opposed the August results but they were overruled by Wafula Chebukati, the chairman of the electoral commission, described by Ruto as 'my hero', who is himself due to retire on 17 January.

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