21 June 2012

Kenya: Controversy Over Land Commission

The controversy over the selection of people to serve in the National Land Commission could now be headed to the courts. High Court advocate Saitabao Kanchory yesterday said members of the Maa community will be filing a constitutional petition today to stop the process after the selection panel ignored their request to reconsider the shortlist.

A section of the community had last week stormed the interview session of those to serve in the Commission claiming that the selection panel had discriminated against them by failing to shortlist anyone among them. We will be filing a constitutional petition. We want the court to declare the process unlawful," Kanchory said yesterday.

The national Land Commission is one of the constitutional commissions which will be charged with management of public land on behalf of the national and county governments. Its establishment is keenly watched so it can perform the constitutional mandate and reduce conflicts over land which normally heightens towards the General Election.

Kanchory further says the suit papers will also seek to stop the selection panel led by Daniel Ichang'i from submitting the names of successful candidates to the president and prime minister for formal appointment. "We want the constitutional court to issue a ruling that will set precedence and guide future appointments to public offices," he added.

The panel shortlisted six candidates for the position of the chairman of the commission, and another 32 applicants for the eight slots in the commission. Last week, the protesters said the shortlisted applicants for the positions of chairperson and members lack regional balance. They claimed that the Maasai community has been denied a slot in the commission that will address historical land injustices.

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