NAIROBI, Kenya, March 1 – Lawyer Cecil Miller has defended himself against claims that he is not qualified to head a new electoral commission.,
In a statement, Mr Miller said the rejection of his nomination to head the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) by Parliament was politically motivated and even tribal.
The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Constitution Review decided to re-advertise the post on Thursday after members failed to reach consensus on his nomination.
“Allegations that I am incompetent and lack integrity are unfounded since I met the criteria set by the PSC and emerged the successful candidate after the job interview,” the statement read.
Mr Miller further dismissed claims that his relations with Garsen Member of Parliament Danson Mungatana would make him partisan in discharging his duties as Chairman of the IIEC.
He argued that Mr Mungatana was the only legislator he represented out of 221 MPs and said that it was not possible for his interests to prevail over Parliament.
The 39-year old city lawyer is not new to public legal affairs. He served as an advocate of the High Court for 13 years.
In 2008, the son of a former Chief Justice, Mr Miller served as lead counsel to the Kriegler Commission, whose inquiry report led to the formation of the IIEC.
He holds a Master Degree in International Law from the University of London, Kings College. He also holds a Bachelors of Law (LLB) degree from the University of Warwick in the UK and a Postgraduate Diploma in Law from the Kenya School of Law.
By law, the chairman of the independent electoral body is qualified to hold office of judge of High Court.
PSC chairman Abdikadir Mohammed had said Mr Miller was selected because of his vast knowledge in electoral reforms.
“He has a Masters in law degree and he was lead counsel in the Kriegler commission, which investigated the 2007 elections… he impressed us most during the interviews,” Mr Mohammed said after a PSC meeting last month that decided to nominate Miller for chair.
The other two contenders short-listed for the position were former long-serving National Assembly Speaker Francis ole Kaparo and former executive director of Institute of Institute of Education and Democracy, Dr Koki Muli.
IIEC will shoulder the responsibility of reforming Kenya’s electoral process and the management of elections to institutionalise free and fair polls.
They are also mandated to establish an efficient and effective secretariat and conduct a fresh registration of voters, before creating a new voters’ register.
The new commission’s first assignment after its formation will be to handle the by-elections in Bomachoge and several other civic seats, which have fallen vacant for various reasons.