Kenya: MPs Approve Bill on Team to Hire IEBC Commissioners

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati, centre, former Commissioner Roselyne Akombe and former CEO Ezra Chiloba address journalists (file photo).
16 October 2020

The National Assembly has approved a Bill that stipulates the selection of a panel to recruit electoral commissioners.

If President Uhuru Kenyatta signs the The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2019 into law, a seven-member team will be formed to oversee the filling of vacant positions in the seven-member commission.

The panel will have two men and two women nominated by the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), one person nominated by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and two individuals fronted by the Inter-religious Council of Kenya.

What remains to be seen is whether the LSK will present a nominee, considering that its President Nelson Havi insists that any business transacted by Parliament is illegal.

The passage of the bill comes as the country stares at an imminent referendum and the 2022 General Election, with legal arguments around whether IEBC with three commissioners instead of seven is properly constituted for a huge responsibility.

Mr Havi is among those who want Parliament dissolved on the basis of the advisory of Chief Justice David Maraga to President Kenyatta for failing to pass the two thirds gender rule.

The advisory has the implication of sending the 416 lawmakers home.

Leadership and integrity

However, Mr Maraga's advisory has been stayed by the High Court until a case challenging it is determined.

Read: MPs approve bill on IEBC vacancies

According to the bill, a person appointed to the selection panel must be a Kenyan, meets the requirements of leadership and integrity and should be a degree holder from a recognised university.

There is no legal framework to deal with emergency cases like filling vacant positions at the IEBC following the resignation of the four commissioners.

The first schedule of the IEBC Act the bill seeks to amend, only applied to the recruitment of the current commissioners.

Ms Connie Nkatha (vice-chairperson) and members Paul Kurgat and Margaret Mwachanya resigned from the commission in April 2018, saying it was difficult to work with Chairman Wafula Chebukati.

Dr Roselyn Akombe had left the commission before the presidential rerun in 2017.

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