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Electoral Bill set for major changes

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 24 – The Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) has proposed a number of amendments to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Bill, key among them being that all commissioner serve on a full time basis.

This is contrary to the current provision in the Bill that stipulates that some commissioners be retained in the new body on a part-time basis.

CIOC Chairman Abdikadir Mohamed tabled the committee\’s report in the House on Tuesday following a week of public deliberations with civil society groups, the Law Society of Kenya and the Interim Independent Electoral Commission among others.

The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) had proposed a full time commission for the first three years to enable it set up a Secretariat but Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo had however amended the provision in favour of a part time commission.

Mr Kilonzo had wanted an executive chairperson and vice-chairperson on a full-time basis with a provision on sub-section three that the remaining seven Commissioners be non-executive on part-time terms.

Mr Kilonzo had also sought to have the House approve staggered appointments for the commissioners with the chairperson and four members appointed upon commencement of the Act while the rest would be appointed within a year thereafter – a provision the COIC disputes.

"We would want to have all the commissioners appointed at the same time in a manner that is different from what he (the minister) had suggested," elaborated Mr Mohammed.

The contentions on the 5th schedule, Mr Mohammed’s team wants the IEBC be given the mandate to work with the legal committee report adopted by Parliament last year.

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The committee further wants section 19 (1) changed to have the yet-to-be constituted Salaries and Remuneration Commission determine salaries for staff.

Contentions on the separation of functions of the commission and secretariat would also be refined so as to clearly spell out the policy-making and implementation roles for the commission and secretariat respectively.

The COIC will also seek to have the number of members to the selection panel reduced to seven with the executive nominating four while the rest would be representatives of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC), the Judicial service commission (JSC) and the association of professional societies of East Africa.

The Committee has also proposed that persons to be considered for appointment of Chairman must be qualified to hold the post of a Supreme Court Judge to ensure the office obtains the highest respect and stature.

The current Bill had proposed that the chair be a person qualified to be a High Court Judge. Parliament is on Thursday expected to debate whether to adopt the changes and approve the legislation that is crucial for the implementation of the new Constitution.

The role of scrutinising the Bill was passed on to the CIOC by Speaker Kenneth Marende last week following the wrangles in the departmental committee on Justice and Legal Affairs.

Mr Marende said the Mohammed-led team was capable of reviewing the Bill and directed that it hand in a report in Parliament within two weeks.

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