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New Kenya electoral body takes shape

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 12 – A list of qualified candidates to be appointed to the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) will be tabled in Parliament next week for approval.

The Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Constitution Review Abdikadir Mohamed said on Thursday that a human resource firm was currently vetting the list of applicants and should conclude short-listing candidates by Friday.

“The country urgently needs this institution but we can’t rush the process. We have written to the House Business Committee asking them not to adjourn Parliament before we the nominees are selected,” Mr Mohammed said in an interview.

The PSC Chairman revealed that 43 individuals had applied to chair the IIEC while over 2,500 others had applied to be included in the nine-member committee.

The applicants include retired judges and lawyers, former Members of Parliament and diplomats. Former long serving Speaker Francis ole Kaparo is also among the applicants.

The PSC advertised the nine positions in the local dailies last month and encouraged Kenyans who are qualified – especially women – to apply.

For a person to be considered for the post of commissioner, he or she must have a degree from a recognised university and must be of high moral character and integrity. The chairman’s position will be occupied by a person who is qualified to be a High Court Judge.

Before 1997, electoral commissioners were appointed by the President but after that, the Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group (IPPG) gave political parties a chance to nominate members based on parties’ strength in Parliament.

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Their names were later forwarded to the President for appointment.

The IIEC shall be responsible for the reform of Kenya’s electoral process and the management of elections in order to institutionalise free and fair polls.

They will also be mandated to establish an efficient and effective secretariat and conduct fresh registration of voters, as well as the creation of a new voters’ register.

The establishment of the new electoral body was the key recommendation by the Kriegler Commission which investigated the 2007 elections conducted by the disgraced Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) under the Chairmanship of Samuel Kivuitu.

Parliament sealed the fate of the ECK last year by voting for the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2008 that sought to replace it with an Interim Independent Electoral Commission.

The disbanded Electoral Commission of Kenya has moved to court to bar the PSC from naming an interim electoral team.

The High Court however declined to give any interim orders to bar the naming of the new interim body as sought by the disbanded ECK.

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