ECK coffin sealed by Cabinet

November 27, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, November 27 – The Cabinet has resolved to disband the embattled Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) and agreed to create an interim body to spearhead electoral reforms.

The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) will be tasked with the responsibility of guiding the restructuring of the electoral body.

A despatch from the Presidential Press Service said that the new team would take charge of “the enactment of an electoral commission act setting out the functions, management and structure of the ECK.”

The Cabinet however did not set a timeline for the establishment of the new team.

Once appointed, the new body would also be tasked with the creation of a new voter register, creation of an Interim Boundaries Review Commission and the adoption of a new electoral system.  It will also establish an Electoral Dispute Resolution Court, prepare enactment of anti-hate speech legislation and spearhead the formulation of an elections law consolidating all laws on elections.

The team will also come up with laws to fix a date for elections, review the management of the ECK and create a Permanent Observer Group.

The raft of measures were drafted by a previous 10 member sub-committee headed by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga that was appointed last month to study the Kriegler report.

Justice Johann Kriegler led a team of eight commissioners in a six-month inquiry that recommended the overhaul of the ECK so as to restore sanity in the country’s electoral process. Last year disputed presidential results led to an outbreak of violence which led to the deaths of more than 1,500 people and displacement of over 300,000 others.

The Independent Review Commission concluded that the elections were grossly mishandled and marred by irregularities under the hand of incompetent persons. Justice Kriegler’s team made it clear that the responsibility of carrying out elections should be de-linked from commissioners and instead replaced by a strong and professional secretariat.

This new Cabinet resolution come hot on the heels of resistance from the disgraced electoral body which has already sought judicial intervention.  The Chief Justice is expected to appoint a three-judge bench to preside over the case which seeks to block the executive from disbanding the commission. ECK chairman Samuel Kivuitu and 21 commissioners argue that the disbandment is unconstitutional because they enjoy security of tenure.


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