NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 19 – Parliament hit a deadlock on Thursday as MPs voted on a list of nominees to the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC).,
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Farah Maalim ruled that the matter be referred back to the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Constitution review, after MPs tied on the vote.
“The ayes 67, the nays 67, abstentions one. Under the circumstances, the matter goes back to the PSC, the motion that is before the House is lost,” he ruled.
The nomination of Cecil Miller as Chairman of the Interim Commission faced stiff opposition in Parliament, prompting heated debate.
The Deputy Speaker urged the PSC to ensure thorough consultations before they bring back the motion for debate.
Commenting on the contributions made by the legislators, he said members of the PSC disagreed on the floor of the House.
“Members of the Select Committee disagreed on the floor of the House. That in itself does not augur well for both the committee and the House at large. Indeed we expect the second time around the committee will bring a job well done,” he said.
Kisumu Town West MP Alago Aluoch was the first to oppose the motion by PSC Chairman Abdulkadir Mohammed. Despite many interruptions by those in support of the Motion, which initially looked as if it would be successful, Mr Aluoch said Mr Miller’s appointment was a conflict of interest.
With time he gained support from many legislators who said Mr Miller had been representing Assistant Minister Danson Mungatana in an election petition.
Those who were supporting the list said there was nothing wrong with a lawyer practicing his trade since it was a plus to his new position.
Gwasi MP John Mbadi who also opposed the motion raised concerns over the selection process of the Chairman. He asked why Mr Miller’s name was not among the six names proposed by a human resource firm for consideration and wondered how he ended up being the best among the candidates.
Committee member Moses Wetangula said they were in agreement before the vote.
Justice Minister Martha Karua also said the Chairman was qualified and acceptable as she appealed to her colleagues to have faith in fellow Kenyans.
Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo accused MPs of rushing to pass names without a consensus, which he said posed a danger of running the country into yet another problem caused by the same Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK).
Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri said: “The way we did it is good enough. It is important for us to have a list that is acceptable to all members.”
“I thank God the way things went, can you imagine having a chairman to head the electoral body yet MPs are this divided over his appointment? It is only God who has saved us, this could have had serious implications,” said another MP who, however, did not want to be named.
The IIEC was created following the recommendations of the Independent Review Commission, headed by Justice Johann Kriegler, which called for the disbandment of the disgraced ECK, which was headed by Samuel Kivuitu.
Meanwhile, Leader of Government Business Kalonzo Musyoka did not move a Motion of adjournment as had been indicated on Thursday’s order paper. The House adjourned usually and resumes next Tuesday for its normal sittings.