Six Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission panellists with the exception of Rosa Buyu took their oaths of office before Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, where they were challenged to give Kenyans a team that will conduct a credible electoral process and restore Kenyans’ faith in the polls.
Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo urged the team to avoid being influenced by the political class saying that Kenyans were yearning for an electoral process that’s fair, transparent and free of violence.
“You will be intimidated; you will be harassed… you will be lobbied and at times you will be called all types of names particularly by the political class who would want to maintain and contain what they have done in the country. They will be doing so to shape your thinking in a particular way,” he said.
Mr Kilonzo added; “But you must not lose focus, stay true to the oath of office and give us a body which will free all of us from the all-too-common anxiety of electoral violence and intimidation.”
The panel’s chairman Dr Ekuru Aukot promised that his team would observe high levels of integrity to ensure that they picked the right commissioners.
“Don’t fear that this is going to be a lynching ground. We are not interested in lynching anybody. We will want to do this with a lot of integrity and respect for people,” he said.
“If you know you are a joker please don’t waste Kenyans’ time. We want serious people who understand what it means to manage elections and what it means to take this country forward. Don’t just apply because you are from tribe or region X and you have this political support,” he said.
Presidential nominees Marion Mutugi and Ambassador Mwanyegela Ngali, Irene Keino (KACC), Sophie Njeri Muturi (APSEA)and Judge Isaac Lenaola (Judicial Service Commission) joined their chairman in taking oath of office.
Chief Justice Willy Mutunga urged the team to put the interests of the nation first as they perform their jobs and also asked the government to ensure their security.
“You should be ready to put your life on the line, the Minister (for Constitutional Affairs) said you will be harassed, you will be lobbied but consider you might be shot at,” said the CJ.
Dr Mutunga advised the panel to ensure that their appointments are based on Chapter Six of the Constitution which speaks directly on the candidates’ leadership and integrity and Chapter 10 on national values and principles of governance.
He said: “We have reached a stage where we can’t have Kenyans running anything when they have biases; whether it’s regional, ethnic, religious or generational.”
The IEBC Selection Panel is supposed to propose three candidates to the President for the position of IEBC chairperson and also pick 13 commissioners, out of which eight will be selected to the IEBC immediately.
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.
Dr Aukot said that they will conduct transparent process where the vetting of the candidates will be open to the public. He stated that the names of the applicants and those short listed will be published in the Kenya Gazette and at least two national newspapers.
“Again I will appeal to Kenyans don’t bring us malicious allegations just because you hate somebody’s look; give us credible information, we want Kenyans to respect this process as we do,” he said.
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 Electoral Officer has already been suspended for allegedly being part of a smear campaign in a bid to disparage their credibility for appointment to the IEBC.