The fate of the much-awaited 2022 General Election now hangs in the balance after President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday, August 23, cast doubt over their viability following a Court of Appeal judgment that poked holes in the composition of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
On Friday, August 20, the appellate court upheld the High Court decision that declared the Building Bridges Initiative illegal saying that the IEBC lacked the requisite quorum for purposes of carrying out its business include verification of signatures.
Speaking in a televised interview from State House Nairobi on Monday, August 23, the president wondered whether the commission led by Wafula Chebukati could effectively conduct the General Election if the court found it unable to conduct a mere referendum.
“If what the court ruled on BBI is anything to go by, then we cannot have the General Election owing to the IEBC composition. I do not want to comment on that. Let us wait and see what unfolds,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said.
Uhuru maintained that he is not focused on pushing back the election but rather focused on completing his term and preparing for transition once he moves out of office.
The Court of Appeal unanimously agreed that the IEBC does not have the requisite quorum for purposes of carrying out its business relating to the conduct of the proposed referendum which includes verification of signatures.
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The ruling has sparked debate amongst analysts and constitutional lawyers on whether the IEBC composition will affect the next year’s elections as well as the various by-elections the commission has presided over.
Ford Asili party in a letter to the IEBC argued that if the commission cannot verify signatures, then it cannot properly conduct a free and transparent election.
“If IEBC had no quorum to verify referendum signatures, what makes the Wafula Chebukati-led IEBC think they have the capacity to effectively conduct the General Election?” read the letter from Ford Asili to IEBC and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Constitutionally, the General Election can only be postponed if a country is at war.
But according to political analyst Mark Bichache, the holes poked by the Court of Appeal judges are enough to postpone the 2022 General Election.
“In as much as Kenyans are busy celebrating a ruling that has nullified the BBI, they are not looking into other aspects which are detrimental in the long term. We recently recruited commissioners for the IEBC and this was done per the law. Is there any other way to nominate and vet these commissioners? No there is not,” Bichache told Kenyans.co.ke.
While the commission insists that the election will be held as planned, a section of leaders, including COTU boss Francis Atwoli, have been pushing for a constitutional amendment, saying it would be unwise for the nation to hold a General Elections before resolving disputes that have plagued the nation after every electioneering period.
“We will oppose this and even write a letter to the UN Security Council stating that Kenya is not at war and that the government should put in place measures to ensure that elections are held as planned,” said former Mombasa Senator Omar Hassan.