Why reconstitution of IEBC will have to wait a little longer

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020 08:20 | By
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chair Wafula Chebukati. Photo/PD/File

Kenyans will have to wait a little longer to have in a place a fully-constituted Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Already, there is push and pull over whether to recruit more commissioners to meet the mandatory seven or disband the Wafula Chebukati-led agency.

The jostling comes at a time the electoral commission is also supposed to begin boundaries review and delimitation amid budgetary crisis.

The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, which is in its second phase of popularisation has called for the disbandment of the commission and new commissioners are picked to conduct the 2022 General Election.

But on Thursday last week, Senators proposed far-reaching amendments to the IEBC Amendment Bill, 2019 that seeks to put in place a selection panel to fill the four vacancies at the electoral body.

The Senate Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs reduced, from 11 to seven, the number of members proposed to sit in the IEBC selection panel in the bill by their sister committee of the National Assembly.

The committee also has introduced mandatory qualifications for the panelists in what is seen as locking out religious leaders who constituted a majority of the panelists that gave birth to Chebukati-led commission.

In a report tabled in the House Thursday, the Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei-led committee noted that the 11 members of the selection panel for the members of the IEBC are too many. 

 “Some organisations represented in the selection panel have no role to play and therefore, should be removed, granted that all Kenyans are stakeholders in the selection of the members of IEBC,” the committee report reads in part.

It adds: “However, not all Kenya’s organisations can be represented in the selection panel. The same should, therefore, reduce to only represent organisations that will add value to the panel,”

The committee has also proposed an additional representative from the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) because they are representatives for Parliament.

“Parliament is a representative of the people because we are here on behalf of other Kenyans. Therefore, we thought that PSC being members of the selection panel will allow Parliament to have direct input in the entire process,” says the report.

Under the new proposals, the selection panel is to consist of seven people, four (two men and two women) nominated by the PSC. Unlike in 2016 where religious organisations had the lion’s share in the panel, the Justice Committee has given them only two slots.

The PSC, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Law Society of Kenya will be allowed to name one person each as well as the National Gender and Equality Commission, one person nominated by Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and two persons nominated by the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (Amendment) (No.3) Bill (National Assembly Bills No.35 of 2019) is in its second reading.

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