New Kenya polls team assumes office

May 11, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 11 – The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) started work on Monday with the swearing in of its nine commissioners.

Chairman Isaack Hassan led other eight commissioners in taking the oath of office at the Chief Justice Evan Gicheru’s chambers which among other things included a vow to shun all influence ‘from any political party or religion’.

“This marks the end of the nomination process of the Commission and now we are ready to go,” Mr Hassan said.

The team will take over the offices of the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK), all its documents, assets and liabilities on Tuesday after when they will now officially handle all electoral correspondence of the country. 

The brief session was witnessed by Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo who expressed confidence with the team.

Mr Kilonzo reiterated that the work of the transitional team was critical in restoring the dignity of elections in the country.

“It is from this interim team that the permanent commission will be based on,” he said.

The country has been without an electoral body following the disbandment of the ECK last December. The disgraced commission was accused of presiding over flawed elections which resulted to the post election violence in which 1,133 were killed and over 350,000 displaced.

The new team faces the hurdle of overseeing electoral reforms in the country and restoring public confidence within two years. Besides instituting a new voter register the commission will, together with the Interim Boundary Review Commission, help institute new electoral boundaries.

IIEC faces the hard task overseeing by-elections in the constituencies of Shinyalu and Bomachoge given that the country has no voter register. Mr Kilonzo said he would be consulting within the government to seek a way forward and have the polls soonest without having to wait for the new Constitution.

He expressed optimism of the polls despite the absence of a voter register. He however cautioned that wide consultations would be necessary to handle the sensitive issue.

“To make a register for Shinyalu or Bomachoge for this people should not be hard. I am sure that can be done even in a month,” Mr Kilonzo said.

Mr Hassan had on Friday expressed skepticism about the polls and said that was the first hurdle the new commission would seek to pass over.

“The commission will sit down and very carefully consider whether to conduct the registration and then the by-elections or we will use the old register and have it cleaned up. We hope the Speaker can give us some time to settle down before issuing the writs,” an upbeat Mr Hassan had said.

President Mwai Kibaki appointed the nine members of the IIEC on Thursday following Parliament’s approval last month after keen vetting.

Other commissioners are Douglas Mwashigadi, Tiyah Galgalo, Hamara Ibrahim Adan, Kennedy Nyaudi, Dr Yusuf Nzibo, Winfred Waceke Guchu, Davis Chirchir and Abiud Wasike.

The Commission will need to hire new staff after the more than 600 employees were redeployed. Mr Hassan has even hinted that they could consider rehiring former staff, especially to retain institutional history.


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