MPs urged to adopt senators report in bid to fill IEBC slots

Friday, October 2nd, 2020 00:00 | By
IEBC commissioners (from left) Abdi Guliye, Boya Molu and chairman Wafula Chebukati during a past function. Photo/PD/File

Mercy Mwai @wangumarci

A National Assembly committee wants legislators to adopt the Senate’s amendments to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Act, proposing the formation of a seven member selection panel that will recruit persons to fill vacant positions at the electoral body.

In a report tabled at the National Assembly yesterday, the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chaired by Muturi Kigano expressed concern that the commission may be paralysed, if the amendment is not passed, to provide for the appointment of more commissioners.

“ The committee, having considered the proposed amendments to the bill by the senate, hereby recommends to the National Assembly that the Senate amendments to the IEBC (amendment) Bill, be agreed to as passed by the Senate,” reads the report in part.

Selection panel

The Senate proposed that the panel comprises two men and two women nominated from the Parliamentary Service Commission, one person nominated by the Law Society of Kenya and two persons nominated by the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya.

For one to qualify to be a member of the selection panel, one must be a citizen of Kenya, meet the requirements of leadership and integrity act as set out in Chapter Six of the Constitution as well as hold a degree from a recognised university.

At the moment, the IEBC Act has no such provision, making it difficult to fill the four vacancies at the commission.

The committee warned that the current commission as constituted by three commissioners lacks capacity and the quorum to make major policy decisions.

Extremely urgent

According to the committee, the proposed amendment bill is relevant and extremely urgent as it may be used as an interim stop gap measure pending comprehensive reforms at the commission.

The committee warns that should the legislators fail to pass the bill as amended by the Senate, it will be referred to the mediation committee, which may lead to further delays in addressing the challenges at the commission.

“There is no legal framework to deal with emergency cases like filing of vacant positions at IEBC as is the case with the current commission following the resignation of four commissioners,” adds the report.

The positions at IEBC were left vacant in April 2018 after the vice chairperson Connie Nkatha Maina and Commissioners Margaret Mwachanya and Paul Kurgat resigned.

Another commissioner, Roselyne Akombe had resigned days before the repeat October 26, 2017, presidential election.

Their resignations left only three commissioners in office including Chairman Wafula Chebukati, Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu.

The senate reduced the number to seven from the initial eleven proposed by the National Assembly saying it was too big.

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