President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed into law the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2019, that paves the way for recruitment of commissioners to fill the vacant slots in the polls agency.
The new law, sponsored by the committee of Justice and Legal Affairs of the National Assembly, provides, establishes a selection panel whose mandate will be to advertise, interview and recruit commissioners for the purpose of appointment by the President.
The new law also sets the criteria for selection of IEBC commissioners and outlines the qualifications of members of the selection panel.
With the new law, the President will have to appoint the panel consisting of members nominated by Public Service Commission, the Law Society of Kenya and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
Until the assent, the IEBC Act had no mechanism to fill the vacant positions at the polls agency. The Commission has operated for nearly two years with only three commissioners - chairman Wafula Chebukati, Abdi Guliye and Boya Mulu - even though the number of commissiners as per the Act are meant to be seven.
Similarly, the commission does not have a substantive CEO since the sacking of Ezra Chiloba in October 2018.
The President signed the Bill into law even as debate on the fate of IEBC rages in the wake of the BBI report launch on Monday.
The report, unveiled a week ago, recommends an overhaul of the commission and points out that the country must go to elections with a new commission in place as the current team does not enjoy public confidence.
It also said that all the returning officers should be hired on a part-time basis through a system similar to that of hiring commissioners. They should not oversee more than one general election, it said.
The BBI recommended the qualifications for the IEBC chair should be open so it is not the preserve of lawyers. It said the position should be open to anyone with at least 15 years' experience as a senior manager.
The report further proposes that half of the commissioners be appointed by parliamentary political parties.
During the launch of the report on Monday, DP William Ruto appeared to oppose the amendments, arguing that the proposal was unfair as it gave parliamentary political parties an undue advantage over others.
The President also assented to the County Outdoor Advertising Control Bill which seeks to streamline outdoor advertising in the counties by ensuring a balance between commercial, environmental and public safety considerations.
The Act recognises the growing importance of outdoor advertising as a revenue stream for county governments and provides a uniform licensing regime across the 47 counties.
The Bills were presented to the President for signature at State House, Nairobi, by Solicitor-General Ken Ogeto in the presence of Speaker of the Senate Ken Lusaka and his National Assembly counterpart Justin Muturi.
Also present were Head of Public Service Dr Joseph Kinyua, Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Amos Kimunya, Clerk of the National Assembly Michael Sialai and his Senate counterpart Jeremiah Nyegenye as well as State House Deputy Chief of Staff Njee Muturi.