Karua sounds ECK death knell

December 5, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 4 – The disbandment of the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) edged closer on Thursday after Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Martha Karua announced that a Bill to replace it with an interim body would be published before the weekend.

Speaking to journalists at a Nairobi hotel, Ms Karua said that the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill no 2 of 2008 that creates an Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IEEC) would be ready for debate in Parliament next week.

She said that the Bill, which stipulates the entrenchment of the constitutional review among other reforms, was already at the Government Printer and would be ready as early as Thursday evening.

“I submitted the Bill yesterday (Wednesday) to the Government Printer and it is supposed to be out today,” Ms Karua said.

On Wednesday, the ECK slammed the government’s move to create an independent body despite a High Court order barring the action.

ECK Vice Chairman Kihara Muttu and Commissioner Alfred Ndambiri argued that the intended dissolution would be unconstitutional.

“As long as this case is pending and the orders are in force, ECK Commissioners and staff believe that the principles of the rule of law must be observed and strictly adhered to,” they said in a statement.

“It is very important that no arm of government acts in disregard to these principles.”

The case is due for mention on December 11 and the ECK insists that the government should await the ruling of the court.

The Cabinet has already authorised the establishment of an Interim Independent Electoral Commission setting the stage for the exit of the ECK.
Latest media reports indicated that the government was preparing a send-off package but the ECK has scoffed at the plans.

“The ECK is not aware of any send-off package and has not been consulted by any arm of government over such plans,” their statement said.
Meanwhile, Ms Karua has said that the 10-member committee established to spearhead implementation of the Waki Report had not reached an agreement contrary to media reports.

“We have not yet agreed what we will do with the Waki Report. We are now working it out,” she said.

“What was published in the press must have been from a brainstorming session of technical people but our group met for the first time yesterday. So I cannot tell you anything about what we will do because it is cooking and will be served hot,” she added.

Her remarks came in the wake of media reports that the Cabinet team was in a rush to beat the deadline on the implementation of the Waki report set for December 17 ahead of Parliament’s recess.

It was reported that the sitting hours of Parliament would be extended to beat the fast-approaching deadline so as to ensure necessary laws are in place to fast-track the implementation of both the Waki and Kriegler reports.

Constitutional lawyer Paul Muite speaking to Capital News separately discouraged any rush in the implementation of the Waki Report saying the remaining time was insufficient.

Mr Muite said the public ought to be given a chance to interrogate contents of the Bill enacting the law to prosecute perpetrators of the post election violence.

“This is a critical matter and therefore more time is needed. The way forward is to own up that the time frame within which the Waki report should be implemented is not adequate. Kenya is a sovereign country and if we own up, the international community will understand,” Mr Muite said.

He added that it was imperative that the Bill be scrutinised to ensure that the executive powers are not abused.

“Had the country accepted the recommendations in good time, we would not be pressed for time,” he said.

On Thursday last week, the Cabinet approved the implementation of Waki Report and named a 10-member committee to spearhead the implementation process.


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