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Aukot to chair panel vetting election team

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 4- The former Chairperson of the now defunct Committee of Experts Dr Ekuru Aukot was on Thursday elected to Chair the seven member panel that will pick commissioners to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

The team consisting of Mwanyangela Ngali, Rosa Buyu, Isaac Lenaola, Irene Keino and Sophie Moturi also endorsed presidential nominee Marion Mutungi as its deputy Chairperson.

Speaking after taking the panel’s leadership mantle, Dr Aukot promised that his panel members would observe high levels of integrity to ensure that they picked the right commissioners for the IEBC.

“We have emphasised that we are all equals here and we have no interests in whatever political persuasions. We will be working as a team because we recognise that the body we are about to propose for Kenya plays a very crucial role in this country,” he observed.

The IEBC selection panel is supposed to pick three candidates for the position of IEBC Chairman before the President appoints one as the Chair. The Aukot led team will also pick 13 commissioners, out of which eight will be selected to the IEBC.

The Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) picked the seven member selection panel late July before their nominations were approved by Parliament. During the vetting exercise the CIOC decided to drop Emily Ominde, Wambugu Kariuki and William Ogara, who had been nominated by three professional bodies.

The Constitution says that the selection panel will decide on the number of commissioners to pick from the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) for purposes of continuity.

However internal wrangles among some of the IIEC members have already started cropping up with regard to those who will make it to the successor IEBC.

The Personal Assistant to the IIEC Chief Executive, James Oswago has already been suspended for allegedly smearing the names of some of the commissioners in order to disparage their credibility to the IEBC.

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Speaking to members of the press on Wednesday IIEC Chairman Issack Hassan said the official was sent away after articles critical of the performance of the commissioners that have appeared recently in the media were found on his laptop.

Mr Hassan said he was forced to abandon a tour of the Philippines, after a section of the media confronted him with allegations of corruption and nepotism. He said the commission commenced investigations which also included engaging the services of Information Technology (IT) experts and independent forensic experts.

“Some of the articles are word for word of what has been printed in a local newspaper’s opinion pages under a different by-line. The other articles were due to be released in subsequent publications,” Mr Hassan said.

He also said they had established that the articles found on the PA’s computer were sent to the newspapers and some were published.

Although the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) did not discuss the tussle at the IIEC during its high level Constitutional review meeting on Thursday, Chairman Abdikadir Mohammed expressed his concern and said that the CIOC would look into the issues.

He however cautioned the IIEC Commissioners against airing their differences in public saying it risked undermining the selection of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission members.

“If there are serious issues then obviously they must be addressed and the manner in which they are to be addressed is also critical. This is not a very good sign and it is important that they handle themselves in a manner that gives confidence to everyone,” he said.


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