‘We went into hiding’ – IEBC Commissioner Guliye opens up about Bomas fracas

Written by on 17 January 2023

Abdi Guliye, the outgoing commissioner of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), has revealed that he was forced to go into hiding for three days after chaos witnessed at Bomas of Kenya during the announcement of the presidential results on August 15, 2022.

Speaking during the launch of the 2022 Post-election Evaluation Report at Safari Park in Nairobi on Monday, January 16, Guliye termed the events of the fateful day as terrifying.

The official said he hid with the electoral body’s CEO Hussein Marjan and Commissioner Boya Molu at an unknown location until everything went back to normal.

“After the Bomas announcement of the presidential results, I recall going into Siberia in my own county together with CEO Marjan and commissioner Molu, we went into hiding, put off our phone and left them at Bomas,” he said.

According to Guliye, the trio also sent away their security detail and rode on a Toyota Noah to their destination after being attacked by rowdy politicians at the national tallying centre.

He said the only contact they had with Kenya and the world was television.

“We watched the television just to check whether you were killing each other or you were celebrating,” he added.

“After three days of hiding, we realised Kenyans had moved on, and we said we can no longer hide.”

Guliye also noted that families of IEBC officials were also affected psychologically during the period.

He praised the church choir engaged by the commission at Bomas for keeping the nation together during the trying time.

“I wish to thank the Bomas choir, even when objects were flying left, right and centre, some of those objects injured us physically, the choir kept on singing, I wish to thank them for that,” he said. 

The three officials and IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati were caught in the melee after chaos erupted at Bomas following the disputed presidential election results.

Chaos erupted at the national tallying centre shortly after four commissioners including then Vice-chairperson Julina Cherera disowned the presidential results announced by Chebukati, where Kenya Kwanza flag bearer Wiliam Ruto was declared winner of the August 9 polls.

A section of politicians allied to Azimio la Umoja – One Kenya coalition are said to have attacked the chairman and his team in an attempt to prevent the IEBC boss from declaring Ruto the President.

After calm was restored, Chebukati was allowed to announce the results without Commissioners Guliye, Molu and IEBC CEO who he said had been attacked and were receiving treatment at a city hospital.

“We have walked the journey of ensuring Kenyans get free, fair and credible elections. It’s not been an easy journey. Right now two of my commissioners and the CEO are injured; we have staff who have been profiled. There is a staff member who disappeared while on duty. We have staff who have been arbitrarily arrested for no reason and I don’t know where they are at the moment,” Chebukati said while intimidation and blackmail from senior state officers.

“We have a constitutional duty to perform and that is why I stand before you here today despite intimidation and harassment. I took an oath of office to serve this country and I have done my duty in accordance with the constitution and the laws of the land.”

Commissioners Guliye, Molu and Chebukati’s term in office comes to an end on January 27 after serving at the commission for six years.

In his speech, Commissioner Guliye maintained that he is leaving the commission satisfied with the contributions he made during his tenure.

“We upheld our oath of office and the rule of law at all times. As I leave office I am satisfied that I did my best for my country and my people,” he noted.

“I leave IEBC stronger and better than I found it. And as I leave I have no apologies to make to anybody. I simply did my work in accordance with my oath of office that I took in 2017 and it is inevitable we have to be replaced.”

On his part, Chebukati also indicated that he did his best at the agency adding that the disputed presidential election of 2022 reflected the will of the people.

“I exit a very contented man, and I say we gave it our best. We chatted and weathered the storms that threatened the existence of the commission, we endured relentless fatigue in our preparation for election. We mastered high courage to overcome perils of democracy and we delivered the sacred will of the people of Kenya,” the outgoing chairman said.

“We have met our fair share of contributions towards strengthening democracy in Kenya. We hold that the August 2022 election – whose presidential results were upheld by the Supreme Court were free fair, credible, transparent and impartial.”

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