Marende concerned over IIEC delay

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 18 – National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende has raised concern over the non-existence of an electoral commission in the country.

Mr Marende on Wednesday said he could not issue a writ to set in motion a by-election in Bamachoge, following the Court of Appeal’s nullification of National Heritage and Culture Assistant Minister Joel Onyancha’s election as area Member of Parliament in January, because no electoral body exists to conduct the poll.

He appealed to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review to move with speed and constitute an Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) to replace the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) that disbanded in December last year.

“Since the IIEC has not been appointed it is not possible at the present time for my office to comply with the provisions of  Section 13 of the National Assembly and Presidential Elections Act relating to issuance of a writ,” the Speaker stated in a statement sent to newsroom.

Mr Marende however went ahead to declare the Bamachoge seat vacant.   “This seat for Bomachoge Constituency shall remain vacant until such a time as the Interim Independent Electoral Commission is appointed and the issuance of writs can be effected.”

Mr Onyancha had moved to court seeking to remain as area MP until the new electoral body was constituted but this was rejected by the Court of Appeal.

The Ford-People MP lost his seat after Justice Daniel Musinga declared his election nullified, citing massive irregularities in the December 2007 polls. The ECK had declared Mr Onyancha the winner with 9,076 votes while his closest opponent garnered 7,221.

A human resource firm is currently short listing candidates for the position of chairperson of the IIEC and will present a list of nominees to the PSC by the end of the week.

The 27 member committee chaired by Abdikadir Mohamed will meet on Tuesday next week to pick the head of the IIEC, which will spearhead reforms of the electoral process. Should they agree the members will have to wait Parliament’s reconvening so as to have the names approved.

A previously proposed commission was rejected by Parliament in February after some MPs expressed reservations over the PSC’s decision to have city lawyer Cecil Miller as chairman.

Mr Miller has since declared that he is no longer interested in the job.