Candidates to head IEBC face the heat

October 11, 2011 4:05 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 11 – Interviews for the position of chairperson to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) kicked off on Tuesday and saw Koki Muli, who had unsuccessfully applied for the chairperson’s position in the current caretaker electoral body put to task over her alleged role in heightening tension during the disputed 2007 election.

Muli, who worked as the Director of the Institute for Education in Democracy (IED) at the time, had to explain why the IED website posted half baked election results and then pulled them down three hours later.

She was also accused of defending the chairperson of the now defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) Samuel Kivuitu, when other civil societies wanted to challenge the 2007 electoral process in court.

The issue was first raised by selection panellist Irene Keino who was making reference to concerns raised by Kenyans regarding her credibility. Keino told Muli that she had been accused of refusing to sign an affidavit challenging the contested elections in court.

This was allegedly after civil societies and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights formed a group to challenge the ECK to disclose what really went on.

“It is also alleged that you even made comments like Kivuitu did not know what was going on with his commissioners and that he was not in control of the results so his situation was made worse,” said Keino as she read out the allegations.

Muli however said that she declined to sign the affidavit because she realised that some of the claims contained therein did not have supporting evidence.

Muli, who also faced allegations of having access to Kivuitu at the time, however denied the accusations maintaining that she was an observer and had no control over the process. She also said that she only had access to him at the tallying centre together with other observers.

“The only other time I had access to him was when we were at the Kenyatta International Conference Center when the results started coming in and I went to ask him if he could allow some observers to observe the results as they were coming in so as to allay any tension,” she said.

Selection panel chairman Ekuru Aukot however continued prodding, asking Muli why she had decided to pull off the results from her website after posting them. She argued that the IED Board decided to withdraw them after realising that they were impartial and could worsen an already volatile situation.

“Tension started building because of delays with the results coming in and the Board convened an emergency meeting and discussed whether the results in the website were aggravating the tension,” she explained.

“By that time, we had only received results from one area and the people using the information were not indicating that they were only results from one area so we had to remove them,” she added.

Muli was also accused of having a close relationship with politicians as well as a former ECK Commissioner who is alleged to have accepted bribes to fix election results while at the ECK.

She however denied all the accusations maintaining that any relationship she might have had with them was purely professional because of the position she held at the IED.

Meanwhile it also emerged that Onsando Osiemo, who had also been short-listed for the chairperson’s position, did not have the requisite professional qualifications as required in the IEBC Act 2011. This Act states that the chairperson must have the same professional qualifications required for a judge in a Superior Court.

This means that a potential candidate must have a minimum of 15 years experience as a Superior Court Judge, a distinguished academic, judicial officer, legal practitioner or hold the qualifications aforementioned in the aggregate to 15 years.

Osiemo also shifted goal posts when he has put to task over the number of years that he had been practicing to convince the panel that he had the requisite 15 years experience as a legal practitioner. He had earlier indicated that had not been practicing since 2007, because of his studies, but later changed his statement.

“I am a researcher and a doctoral is not full time so I have been practicing and even have court cases going back to the year 2006, 2008,” he said.

Osiemo’s conflicting response however raised more questions because he had earlier stated that he had been unable to attain the required Continuing Legal Education units for each year since 2005 because he had been busy with studies.

This came after it emerged he was not a member in good standing with the Law Society of Kenya (LSK).

Consolata Wanjiku Ngondi on other hand was tasked over the confusing dates in her CV, her objective for applying for the position and her role in a controversial land sale that saw one of the financiers lose Sh4.5 million.

She explained that she had nothing to do with the loss and even took steps to restitute the damages. The case, involving various lawyers, had already been mentioned before the LSK but was thrown out.


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