Electoral commission head Wafula Chebukati Tuesday evening pushed aside senior staff who oversaw the nullified presidential election and appointed a fresh team to oversee the October 17 election.
Flexing his muscles as the Returning Officer for the presidential election as outlined in the Constitution, Mr Chebukati appointed a six-member team that will effectively be in charge of the election, under his watch.
He appeared to push aside Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba and other senior staff that the National Super Alliance (Nasa) has targeted for removal.
The head of the team named by Mr Chebukati is Mr Marjan Hussein Marjan, one of the two deputy CEOs. He was named Project Co-ordinator.
Mr Hussein headed the team at the Bomas of Kenya that received the Forms 34B from the constituencies before their validation.
Pushed aside along with Mr Chiloba is his deputy Betty Nyabuto, Director of Voter Registration and Elections Operations Immaculate Kasait, her junior Mwaura Kamwati, the manager of operations, and head of ICT James Muhati.
Also in the list of those who have been bypassed is Anne Nderitu, the director of training, and Praxedes Tororey, the head of legal.
“In my capacity as the National Returning Officer for the presidential election and in accordance with Section 38 of the Elections Act (2011), I have hereby appointed the following staff members to serve in a project team for purposes of the presidential election to be held on October 17, 2017,” Mr Chebukati said in the brief statement.
The chairman said that the seven will start work immediately on a three-month contract.
Perhaps to show the extent of his interest to get the polls technology right, Mr Chebukati appointed a new ICT manager whom he has directed to report directly to him.
This is the commission’s South Coast Co-ordinator, Mr Albert Gogo.
Ms Nyabuto has been replaced by Dr Sidney Namulungu, who will be the head of operations.
She is the other deputy CEO and has been in charge of operations.
Ms Nancy Kariuki is taking over as head of logistics and has, therefore, replaced Ms Kasait and Mr Kamwati.
Mr Bernard Misati Moseti has replaced Ms Nderitu as head of training while Mr Silas Rotich will be the head of the National Tallying Centre.
Ms Tororey has been replaced by Ms Salome Oyugi as head of legal.
Ms Tororey was part of the team that put together the trove of information filed at the Supreme Court.
Mr Chebukati said the changes were part of his bid to show commitment that the fresh presidential election will be “in accordance with the Constitution, the relevant laws and that it reflects the sovereign will of the Kenyan people”.
The commission has twice this week denied as “fake news” reports of internal strife over the decision of the Supreme Court and accusations in reports by the registrar that it failed to do its job properly.
There have also been reports of discomfort within the commission with the announcement by Mr Chebukati hours after the decision last week that there would be internal changes, with complaints that the remarks were premature.
The changes were announced at the end of a day in which Nasa ramped up pressure on the commission, questioning its decision to set October 17 as the date of the fresh election and setting out a list of seven conditions it wants met before the new elections are held.
The Jubilee Party asked Nasa to keep off the commission and accused it of not being prepared for the elections.