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TEHRAN, Dec. 02 (MNA) – At least 40 al-Shabaab terrorists were killed and several others wounded in a fresh operation in Somalia's Middle Shabelle region on Thursday, authorities said.

The operation in the rural area of Mahaday town was conducted by the Somali army, and intelligence and security agency, and supported by international partners, according to the Information Ministry.

The fresh operation came days after al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group, attacked the Villa Rays hotel near the presidential palace in the capital Mogadishu that killed at least eight civilians.

On Wednesday, Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre said the government has waged a multipronged assault on al-Shabaab militants militarily, financially, and ideologically.

“The security operation has thus far neutralized thousands of Kharijite combatants – 600 killed and 1,200 wounded within three months,” he said, Anadolu agency reported.

Somalia has been plagued by insecurity for years, with al-Shabaab being one of the main threats.

Since at least 2007, al-Shabaab has waged a deadly campaign against the Somali government and international forces, claiming thousands of lives.

The UN has also warned of growing instability in the country, with its periodic reports on Somalia this year detailing attacks by al-Shabaab and pro-ISIL groups.

There were at least 1,518 civilian casualties – 651 killed and 867 injured – in terrorist attacks in Somalia in 2018, followed by 1,459 – 591 killed and 868 injured – in 2019, according to UN estimates.

MEHR News Agency

Justice Aggrey Muchelule (pictured) will chair the tribunal that will investigate the four suspended IEBC commissioners. [File, Standard]

Justice Aggrey Muchelule will chair a nine-member team that will investigate suspended IEBC commissioners Juliana Cherera, Irene Masit, Francis Wanderi and Justus Nyang’aya.

Members of the tribunal are Carolyne Kamende Daudi, Mathew Njaramba Nyabena and Col. (Retired) Saeed Khamis.

The joint secretaries are Kibet Kirui Emmanuel and Irene Tunta Nchoe. 

Peter Munge Murage will be the lead counsel, assited by Zamzam Abdi Abib.

“The mandate of the tribunal shall be to consider the petition for the removal of (1) Juliana Whonge Cherera, (2) Francis Mathenge Wanderi, (3) Irene Cherop Masit and (4) Justus Abonyo Nyang’aya from office as members of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and to inquire into the allegations therein,” said President Ruto in the Special Gazette Notice Number 258.

“In the discharge of its functions, the tribunal shall — (a) Prepare and submit a report and its recommendations thereon expeditiously; and (b) exercise all the powers conferred upon it by law for the proper execution of its mandate,” said the Head of State.

The list of tribunal members was revealed in a Special Gazette Notice by President William Ruto on Friday, December 2 after he announced the suspension of the four IEBC commissioners over alleged gross misconduct and violation of the Constitution.

The commissioners’ suspension paves way for investigations into their conduct by a nine-member tribunal after disputing the August 9, 2022 presidential election results announced by IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati. 

The accused group had alleged that Chebukati altered the results in favour of President William Ruto, and as a result, disenfranchised Ruto’s main competitor Raila Odinga.

The National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) had recommended to the president to form a tribunal to investigate the four over their election conduct.

The National Assembly on Thursday, December 1, adopted JLAC’s report.

On Friday, December 2, via a Special Gazette Notice, President Ruto suspended the four commissioners, and formed a nine-member tribunal.

The Head of State directed the tribunal to expedite the probe and submit its report to him. 

During their suspension, the four commissioners won’t be allowed to dispense their duties, but will be paid half of their monthly salaries.

The tribunal can recommend the commissioners’ sacking or full reinstatement.

During JLAC hearings, none of the accused commissioners honoured the summonses in person.

Four petitioners, including Reverend David Nthumbi, filed their complaints with the National Assembly, accusing the breakaway commissioners of attempting to change the will of Kenyans.

Article 251 of the Constitution stipulates the process of removing the commissioner of an independent body from office.

“A person desiring the removal of a member of a commission or of a holder of an independent office may present a petition to the National Assembly setting out the alleged facts constituting that ground,” says the Constitution.

“The National Assembly shall consider the petition and, if it is satisfied that it discloses a ground for removal from office, shall send the petition to the president; on receiving a petition, the president — may suspend the member or office holder pending the outcome of the complaint; and shall appoint a tribunal,” says the Constitution.

The tribunal consists of a person who holds or has held office as a judge of a superior court (the chairperson); at least two persons who are qualified to be appointed as High Court judges; and one other member who is qualified to assess the facts in respect of the particular ground for removal.

“The tribunal shall investigate the matter expeditiously, report on the facts and make a binding recommendation to the president, who shall act in accordance with the recommendation within 30 days,” says the law.

“A person suspended under this Article is entitled to continue to receive one-half of the remuneration and benefits of the office while suspended.” By Brian Okoth, The Standard

Rwanda President Paul Kagame at the 77th UN General Assembly.[File, Standard]

Rwandan President Paul Kagame is now accusing his Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) counterpart Felix Tshisekedi of taking advantage of the current security situation to delay the 2023 polls.

Kagame, in an address to Parliament on Wednesday, November 30 in Kigali, said the leadership of the DRC is using delay tactics to postpone the presidential elections slated for December 2023.

“This problem can be resolved if one country headed for elections next year is not trying to create an emergency so that the elections don’t take place, not that he won the first elections as we know. If he is trying to find another way of having the next elections postponed, then I would rather he uses other excuses, not us,” Kagame said in the hour-long speech. 

Tshisekedi assumed the top office in January 2019. Kagame on Wednesday also called out the double standards by countries and parties dealing with the DRC crisis, adding that Rwanda has been made the scapegoat.

He posed: “How can all these powerful countries that speak so much of humanitarian crisis and human rights and speak up for wanting to resolve all this, sit with this kind of situation…keep massaging it and blame everybody else except them?”

“It has become so convenient for long that all problems are heavily put on the shoulders of Rwanda. Rwanda is always the culprit.”

DRC and Rwanda have accused each other of backing rebel groups. 

Former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and peace envoy for the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa earlier in the week called for an end to the conflict and for warring parties to cease hostilities.

“Peace cannot be brought to DRC by foreigners but from the people of DRC. The wealth of Congo is meant to help you and not to make the country and its people bleed,” he said.

Kenya and Burundi have already deployed troops to DRC to quell tensions in the region. By Betty Njeru, The Standard

  • A collage image of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga (left) and IEBC vice chairperson Juliana Cherera addressing the media on August 15, 2022 (left).BBC/ FREDRICK OMONDI 
  • Orange Democratic Movement, party leader, Raila Odinga, has responded to President William Ruto's move to suspend IEBC vice chairperson, Juliana Cherera, and three other commissioners. 

    Speaking during a meeting with Nairobi grassroots leaders in Nairobi on Friday, December 2, Raila described the suspension as dictatorial and a conspiracy to rig the 2027 General Election. 

    He reiterated that Azimio Coalition would not sit back and allow the government to remove the four commissioners from office. 

    Azimio party leader addressingsupporters in Homa Bay County on Friday, November 4, 2022..jpg
    Azimio party leader addressing supporters in Homa Bay County on Friday, November 4, 2022.  RAILA ODINGA 

    In addition, the former Prime Minister maintained that he would lead his supporters in public consultations forum beginning December 7 at the historical Kamukunji grounds. 

    The ODM Leader further contested the proposed bill in Parliament seeking to amend the procedure of recruiting IEBC commissioners.  

    “The events in Parliament yesterday on the formula of appointing IEBC commissioners and the hounding of the four commissioners have got nothing to do with integrity, but about 2027. Ruto wants to rig the 2027 election. We should not allow this to happen."

    Azimio also revealed plans to hold a rally at the above-mentioned venue parallel to the national Jamhuri Day celebrations on December 12. 

    "On December 7, we will launch the public consultations forum at the historical Kamkunji grounds. And we will return to the same grounds on December 12 to continue with the consultations," Raila stated.

    Raila's statement came shortly after President William Ruto announced the suspension of Cherera and commissioners Irene Masit, Francis Wanderi, and Justus Nyang'aya following a recommendation from the National Assembly. 

    On Tuesday, November 30, Azimio la Umoja leaders resolved to postpone public consultations regarding the impeachment of the four dissenting commissioners citing the ongoing national examinations. 

    However, it emerged that former President and Azimio Patron Uhuru Kenyatta had a hand in the decision to postpone the demonstrations.  

    Wiper Party Chairman Chirau Ali Mwakwere also denounced plans to hold a parallel rally on Jamhuri Day in what he termed as a selfish move and threat to national peace. 

    Azimio leader Raila Odinga arrives at the Kisumu International Airport on Sunday, November 27, 2022..jpg
    Azimio leader Raila Odinga arrives at the Kisumu International Airport on Sunday, November 27, 2022. By DENNIS NYAMBANE,
  • IEBC Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera during an IEBC briefing at the Bomas of Kenya on Monday, August 1, 2022. IEBC 
  • The National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) on Thursday, December 1,  parliament recommended the suspension of the four dissenting Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners. 

    The report compiled by JLAC under its Chairperson, George Murugara, requested President William Ruto to form a tribunal to investigate the IEBC Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera, Irene Masit, Francis Wanderi and Justus Nyang’aya over their alleged misconduct in the last general election. 

    “The committee recommends that the President suspend the four Commissioners herein pending the Tribunal verdict,” read the report in part.

    Back Row, From Right: Former Azimio Secretariat Spokesperson Prof Makau Mutua, ODM Leaderc Raila Odinga and Wiper Party Leader Kalonzo Musyoka appear in JLAC committee sessions in solidarity with the four dissenting IEBC commissioners.
    Back Row, From Right: Former Azimio Secretariat Spokesperson Prof Makau Mutua, ODM Leader Raila Odinga and Wiper Party Leader Kalonzo Musyoka appear in JLAC committee sessions in solidarity with the four dissenting IEBC commissioners. MAKAU MUTUA 

    The resolve was a culmination of sessions held for the past week in which the aforementioned commissioners were summoned to appear before the committee in defence of the accusations levelled against them. 

    Cherera and the three commissioners were accused of gross misconduct and incompetence in managing the operations of the electoral body. However, the commissioners failed to appear before the JLAC committee which prompted the members to proceed with the process of compiling the report without their input. 

    According to their lawyers, JLAC committee lacked the jurisdiction to prosecute the petitions against them. In a statement presented before the committee, Commissioner Irene Masit's lawyer hinted at pursuing redress in court over the petitions. 

    The decision to snub the committee sessions followed an earlier appeal by former Prime Minister and Azimio la Umoja Chief Raila Odinga urging the four commissioners to boycott the summons. 

    Consequently, members of the JLAC affiliated with the Azimio coalition staged a walkout from the committee sessions arguing that the committee was hell-bent to see the removal of the dissenting four without according them a fair hearing. 

    Upon approval by members of the National Assembly in the plenary, the President will gazette their suspension and subsequently form a tribunal to investigate into their conduct. 

    The resolve of the JLAC came amid threats by the opposition faction to hold national wide demonstrations to oppose the move to impeach Cherera and her colleague commissioners.  

    Raila, while announcing the postponement of the scheduled consultation rallies reiterated the ruling side was determined to settle political scores against Juliana Cherera for the role they played in the August election. 

    Raila also alluded to a plan aimed at influencing the outcome of the 2027 general election. 

    From leftIEBC Commissioners Juliana Cherera, Commissioner Abdi Guliye and Chairman Wafula Chebukati at the Bomas of Kenya on Monday, August 8, 2022
    From left: IEBC Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera, Commissioner Abdi Guliye and Chairman Wafula Chebukati at the Bomas of Kenya on Monday, August 8, 2022. KENYANS.CO.KE Robinson Ndungu

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