MPs pick panel to vet election officials

July 26, 2011 5:19 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, July 26- The Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) has endorsed Marion Mutugi, Mwanyangela Ngali, Rosa Buyu, Ekuru Aukot, Isaac Lenaola, Irene Keino and Sophie Moturi as the persons who will vet the nine Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commissioners.

The CIOC decided to drop Emily Ominde, Wambugu Kariuki and William Ogara, who had been nominated by three professional bodies, after the day long vetting exercise which kicked off on Tuesday morning.

CIOC Chairman Abdikadir Mohammed said that the new electoral body would be ready by August 1 to carry out its duties and beat the Constitutional deadlines.

This follows the July 18 publication of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Act which gives the President, Prime Minister and Parliament 14 days (from the commencement date) within which to form the electoral body.

The seven names will be tabled in Parliament on Wednesday for further debate before they are approved.

“Please state your name and take the oath before you take us through some of the key issues in your CV (curriculum Vitae),” Mr Mohammed said while he was addressing the nominees.

However during the vetting exercise, several MPs, including Kilemi Mwiria (Tigania West), John Mbadi (Gwassi MP), Cecil Mbarire (Runyenjes MP) and Amina Abdalla (nominated), raised concerns about the political aspirations held by some of the nominees.

The legislators argued that it would be better for the nominees to forego their nomination to the panel as they held political interests arguing that it would compromise their decisions.

Amb Ngali and Ms Buyu, who had been nominated by the President and Prime Minister respectively, had admitted that they harbored political interests.

Prof Mutugi said that she unsuccessfully vied for the Ndia constituency seat in 2007 however adding that she was no longer interested in politics. The 51 year old also indicated that she served as the Secretary General for the Democratic Party until her 2007 loss.

Amb Ngali contested and lost for a political seat in 2002 (on a KANU ticket) as well as 2007 (on a Narc-Kenya ticket). He however continues holding the chairmanship of Narc-Kenya in the Wundanyi branch.

Ms Buyu said that she was a member of the ODM adding that she also vied for the Kisumu Town West seat in 2007 but lost. When asked whether she would seek a political seat in next year’s polls, Ms Buyu said she hadn’t made up her mind yet.

“In your opinion do you believe that it would be ethical for a person who is going to be in a race to participate in selecting the referee? If for example you won your election and someone said you were favored by the commissioners you voted in, how would you deal with that?” Ms Abdalla asked the nominees with political interests.

However both Amb Ngali and Ms Buyu said that they would not allow their political interests to cloud their judgment at the selection panel. They also said that the ethical question should not be a determining factor as there was no conflict.

“This position of a panelist is a very temporary job; it won’t even last beyond October and once we finish our duties we will be disbanded. So that being the case, I don’t see any ethical conflict if I continue pursuing my political interests,” said Amb Ngali.

However Ms Abdalla rubbished Amb Ngali’s argument reminding him to focus on the long term effects of the panel’s objectives.

“The ethical part is that yes you will be a panelist for only four weeks but the effect of your work will last for six years,” she argued.

The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) added its voice to the debate saying that there would be a conflict of interest if the selection panel members continued holding their political ambitions.

“In terms of the spirit of the Constitution and the IEBC Act there is a conflict. If there’s an admitted political interest then I would be surprised that such a person still wants to serve in the selection panel,” said the CIC Chairman, Charles Nyachae.

During the vetting exercise, the nominees were all asked to declare their financial assets and also state whether or not they had ever been caught on the wrong side of the law.

Although the other nominees said that they had clean records, Prof Mutugi and Amb Ngali said that they had been taken to court over traffic offenses. Prof Mutugi also has an ongoing case with the Karen Motor Mart whom she accuses of tampering with her vehicle.

Other than the issue surrounding political ambitions the nominees had rich résumés and have all served in numerous capacities in both the public and private spheres.


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