Diplomats insist ECK chiefs must quit

October 3, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, October 3 – Pressure continued to pile up on officials at the Electoral Commission of Kenya on Friday to quit, and pave way for reforms.

The United States of America, Germany and the International Commission of Jurists on Friday separately called on the 22 commissioners to vacate office in compliance with the findings of the report of the Independent Review Commission (IREC) commonly referred to as the Kriegler Commission.

In a statement sent to the newsrooms, the US Embassy said the commissioners had lost the confidence of Kenyans and must be held accountable over the manner in which they handled the 2007 General Election.

“The U.S. Government has repeatedly made clear that the lack of transparency and accountability in the election vote tallying process seriously compromised the credibility of the results.  The ECK was responsible for oversight of this process and therefore bears responsibility for the way in which it was handled,” the statement read in part.

The US also called for the full and immediate implementation of the Kriegler report, just a day after the government accused foreign envoys of blatant breach of protocol over their demands that the commissioners should resign.

Foreign Affairs Minister Moses on Thursday said the government would not tolerate,’ what seems to be a pattern of activism being practised in Nairobi by a few ambassadors under the guise of conducting their normal official diplomatic engagements’.

On its part the Kenya chapter of the International Commission of Jurists urged President Mwai Kibaki to set up a five-member tribunal ‘to investigate the question of the removal of the commissioners.’

In a statement ICJ chairman Wilfred Nderitu said the commissioners ought to have resigned but noted that since they had failed the heed such demands, then President should exercise his powers under the Constitution.

He said Justice Kriegler’s report could not be implemented with the commissioners still in office since the officials would obstruct any reforms, and should be forced out of office through the legal process.

“ICJ-Kenya opines that ECK as currently constituted has no capacity to lead or participate the envisaged reforms as stipulated in the Kriegler report,” Mr Nderitu said in the statement.

The German Ambassador Walter Lindner said the international community and the Kenyan government both had the same opinion, which is to reform ECK and implement the recommendations of the Kriegler report.

He said the government had already supported the report and promised its implementation, which have been the sentiments of the international community.

“If the international community and the government sit together, I am sure we will have the same opinion, which is that the Kriegler report is a good one and the implementations have to be done. Let’s not over react, this is maybe blown out of proportion, the important thing is we all work together to implement this report,” he said.

Lindner said his government was more than willing to put its input to support the implementation of the recommendations.

France Ambassador Elisabeth Barbier also said that Kriegler report should be implemented.

Section 41 of the Constitution says that member of the Commission may be removed from office only for inability to exercise the functions of his office (whether arising from infirmity of body or mind or from any other cause) or for misbehaviour, and shall not be so removed except in accordance with this section.

It adds that a member of the Commission shall be removed from office by the President if the question of his removal from office has been referred to a tribunal appointed under subsection (7) and the tribunal has recommended to the President that he ought to be removed from office for inability as aforesaid or for misbehaviour.

“If the President considers that the question of removing a member of the Commission under this section ought to be investigated, then the President shall appoint a tribunal, which shall consist of a chairman and four other members selected by the President from among persons who hold or have held the office of judge of the High Court or judge of appeal.  They will also either be qualified to be appointed as judges of the High Court or people upon whom the President has conferred the rank of Senior Counsel,” the constitution reads in part.

Once constituted, the tribunal shall inquire into the matter and report on the facts thereof to the President and recommend to him whether the member ought to be removed.

When the question of removing a member of the Commission has been referred to a tribunal under this section, the President may suspend that member from the exercise of the functions of his office, and any such suspension may at any time be revoked by the President, and shall in any case cease to have effect if the tribunal recommends to the President that member should not be removed.


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