NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 7 – The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) has abolished seasonal Returning Officers (RO) usually recruited during the elections period.
Chairman Issack Hassan said on Wednesday that the commission was instead recruiting permanent Constituency Elections Coordinators who would act as returning officers during the elections.
The Commission, he added, had also eliminated the post of District Elections Coordinators and opted to work with those in the constituencies.
“Under the old system they were casual employees who would come in for three months sometimes mess the process and go away, but now we are holding them accountable. They will be permanent and pensionable employees of the commission,” he said.
Returning Officers are considered very crucial and powerful persons in the elections as their word on the results is final. Complaints have been raised on their competency and impartiality considering that most of them are usually former civil servants from the local areas.
“I can tell you we have received applications from some holders of Masters Degree qualifications for the posts,” said Mr Hassan signaling that the commission was focused on bringing in highly qualified people into the system.
“These people can be transferred during the elections itself. We can employ you for Othaya constituency but during the elections post you to oversee Moyale,” he said.
The commission has divided the country into 17 regions for efficiency and is recruiting regional coordinators together with 210 constituency coordinators and ten directors for the headquarters. Each of the provinces except Nairobi will have two regions.
The commission was appointed in April to take over from the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya accused of bungling the 2007 elections. It was mandated to reform the electoral process including a fresh voters’ register, a code of conduct and use of Information and Communication technology.
Mr Hassan said the commission would start the process of voter registration in November and expected to have a fresh register by March next year.
“As long as we have the competent staff and materials we are sure we can do it in two months,” he said.
On the use of ICT, he said the commission was ready to interconnect the country once it finalised the process of recruiting constituency coordinators.
“We have all the 210 laptops bought by the United Nations Development Program for the 2007 elections and the software so once we have the staff we will just implement it,” he said.
The commission had also in conjunction with the Kenya Law Reform Commission finalised the Elections Bill and the Electoral Commission Bill for debate in Parliament.