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Nairobi — With 25 days to the August general election, the question on whether Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko will be on the ballot still remains a big headache to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The Commission’s Chairman Wafula Chebukati and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Marjan Hussein are reading from different scripts on whether they will appeal the High Court decision to pave way for Sonko to be on the ballot for the Mombasa race.
In a joint TV interview Wednesday night, Chebukati however stated that the commission will not be appealing the decision due to serious timelines facing them which include the printing of ballot papers.
“We have incessant court decision that put us on an awkward position. As a commission, we must obey the orders and enforce them. On Sonko’s ruling it will have to be enforced and complied with. But that notwithstanding, I’m aware the issue around impeachment is at the Supreme Court and will be heard perhaps tomorrow. In future, there will be clarity along that line,” Chebukati said.
He insisted that the commission move not to seek legal redress on the High Court ruling is to ensure the poll agency is well prepared for the August polls.
“As a commission how we operate, we follow the law and implement court orders as they come. We don’t have a choice on that. With 26 days to the election, we must finish printing ballot papers. Actually, we are even late in making changes to the ballot papers,” Chebukati noted.
“In most of these cases we don’t have time to take any other action. I have not read the judgement but as a commission, we would want to finalise this process so that we give Kenyans credible elections on the 9th of August,” he added.
Marjan on his part pointed out that the commission will not list Sonko on the gazette notice until the Supreme Court issues a verdict on whether Sonko was legally and procedurally impeached.
“As a commission, we have not made a decision on whether we are going to appeal or not. What is important for us is to wait for the Supreme Court to assert itself on this matter. The Mombasa Court took the decision because of the pending case at the Supreme Court,” he said.
The IEBC CEO stated that the printing of the ballot in Mombasa County had been halted due to the pending legal cases and that the Supreme Court verdict would guide the commission on the way forward.
“There is a difference in interpretation of two sections of the law.Whereas we see one as a stand-alone, others see it as being intertwined. We only have two days, the best thing is to wait and not jump the gun,” the IEBC CEO stated.
However with the High Court having ruled to allow him on the ballot and IEBC not made a move to appeal the verdict, Sonko is legally required to be cleared.
With Sonko impeachment case pending at the Supreme Court which might revert the decision to clear him for the race, it remains unclear whether he will be cleared.
The commission now says it’s within the purview of the Mombasa returning officer to decide on whether or not he will clear Sonko to vie in the Mombasa gubernatorial race.
“It is the decision of the Returning Officer on whether or not to receive Sonko’s papers. Even the IEBC chairman cannot tell the Returning Officer what to do… What we do is provide advice to the Returning Officer,” said Marjan.