, NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 15 – The controversy surrounding the creation of additional constituencies took an ODM-PNU twist on Monday, even before the official report is released by the 27th of this month.
A section of MPs from Nairobi accused the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission’s (IIBRC) chairman Andrew Ligale of favouring areas with ODM support in the crafting of additional constituencies.
Dagoretti MP Beth Mugo and Embakasi’s Ferdinand Waititu wondered why Langata and Westlands constituencies had received more constituencies, despite having lesser population densities.
"Why does Mr Ligale want to take us backwards… this is not about ODM and PNU. We are asking him to operate above board so that it can be seen that he was a chairman who was motivated by national interests and not those of a political party," said Mr Waititu
The MPs demanded to know why the commission subjected Nairobi to a different criterion from the one used for Kisumu and Mombasa cities
They now want the IIBRC to use a uniform 30 percent deviation for urban centres which will see Nairobi end up with about 16 additional constituencies as opposed to the eight proposed in the leaked document.
Percent deviation helps qualify the calculation of an average.
"We are saying as Nairobians that we were no given our fair share and we are completely against any gazettement, because it is fraud to do that when Nairobi is under-represented," said the Public Health Minister Beth Mugo.
At the same time, Ndaragua MP Jeremiah Kioni called on the IIBRC to explain how it reached consensus on how the new constituency would be created.
The MP said it was confusing to see commissioners reading from different scripts yet the decision was supposed to be done by the entire commission.
“There are some commissioners who have accused their chairman of acting unilaterally and trying to influence the process of creating the 80 extra parliamentary seats. Why then should we accept something which they themselves are yet to agree upon?”
Mr Kioni said the gazettement of the controversial changes be withheld until all those involved in the process reach consensus and their findings are acceptable by the Kenyan majority.
He also questioned the formation of the team saying some commissioners contested for various political seats in the last general election and hence should not participate in any activity of the IIBRC as required by the new constitution.
“Mr Ligale and Commissioner Irene Masit had contested for parliamentary seats in the last general elections so we believe they are in a better position to influence the outcome of the IIBRC on creation of new electoral constituencies because of their individual interests,” he said.
He noted that creating new constituencies on the basis of provincial boundaries was also against the new law since they were now obsolete as regional governments in the form of counties have been formed by the new Constitution.
The IIBRC chairman has come under fire from a section of MPs allied to the Party of National Unity (PNU) who are calling for the disbandment of the Commission and trashing its recommendations on claims that it was biased.
MPs from Eastern, Coast and Central Provinces have been up in arms, pointing out that the commission had ignored a political agreement on the formula for delimiting boundaries reached in Naivasha.
They have threatened to move to court to block the Commission from releasing its recommendations that should be implemented before the next general election in 2012.
However, those from North Eastern, Western, Nyanza and Rift Valley have expressed support and want their colleagues to wait until after the new constituencies have been gazetted before making their complaints.
During the Naivasha retreat, MPs recommended that Rift Valley be allocated 26 new constituencies, Nyanza (10), Nairobi and Eastern nine each, Central and Western seven each and Coast and North Eastern six each.
Mr Ligale snubbed this recommendation and accused the defunct PSC on Constitutional review of interfering with his commission’s mandate.
But according to the leaked IIBRC proposals, Rift Valley will get 26 new constituencies, Nairobi, Nyanza and Western nine each, Eastern seven, North Eastern six, Coast and Central provinces four each.