, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 29 – The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) says it will conduct its own vetting of candidates vying in the upcoming Kirinyaga Central Constituency by-election to ensure they comply with the Constitution and the Electoral Code of Conduct.
The chairman of the IIEC Issack Hassan warned that the Commission would block anyone who failed to meet the high integrity criteria outlined in the Constitution.
Mr Hassan urged political parties to do due diligence and keenly vet their nominees for the February 16, 2011 by-election and ensure they present credible candidates.
“Once the parties bring their nominees to us we will publish the candidates who qualify in the dailies for public scrutiny,” he said adding that “if evidence emerges which is credible which we can authenticate from official sources we will disqualify them. “
“We are telling parties not to make us do that. We are telling them to know their candidates and do due diligence,” Mr Hassan said.
The Constitution bars any person from vying for a seat if they are subject to a six-month jail term or if found to have misappropriated public funds or abused State office in the past.
A person previously dismissed from the public service on basis of nepotism and/or favoritism in the conduct of his work is also prohibited from vying for political office.
Political parties have come under fire in the recent past for failing to be diligent in vetting their nominees for by-elections.
The chairman was speaking when he handed writs for the February by-election to the Returning Officer Teresiah Wanjiru.
The seat fell vacant following a successful election petition. The 2007 Returning Officer was accused of announcing the loser as the winner, but Mr Hassan promised that this time around the “correct candidate” will be declared.
“We have installed a software in adding the votes as they came through so that whoever is announced will be the candidate who won the election,” he said.
In the meantime, Mr Hassan announced that the commission was ready for the transition to the yet-to-be-formed Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
“We are ready for that takeover. We have established a credible secretariat that will be the engine of the new commission,” he said.
Mr Hassan said “the law provides for a part of the commission to be retained for continuity purposes.”
He said IIEC was in the final stages of fine-tuning the new Elections Bill that will guide the work of the new commission.
The Chairman said they had consulted various stakeholders including the civil society, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and the Kenya Law Reform Commission.
“All that is remaining is consulting political parties and politicians,” said Mr Hassan.
The Commission has in the meantime pulled out of plans to supervise next month’s Students of Nairobi University Organisation elections due to what it calls “unresolved university/student issues.”
In a letter to the University Dean, IIEC Secretary James Oswago cited resistance from students who are against the independent body conducting the election as the main reason of pulling out of the process.
“As you are aware, the nomination process was disrupted by students culminating to our officers being evicted by the said students and our materials forcibly seized,” said Mr Oswago in his letter.
Another group of students is said to have stormed the commission offices demanding that IIEC should not conduct the elections.
The commission had been called in as the University sought a credible poll after earlier elections in May were marred by violence from students claiming massive rigging by the administration.
This forced the University administration to close the institution for weeks and to nullify the elections.