NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 16 – The Party of National Unity has forayed into the debate on the shortlist made by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission selection panel, saying outgoing IIEC commissioners deserve to be called for interviews.
The party which met in Karen to brainstorm over next year’s elections argued that the commissioners who served in the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) as well as the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission (IIBRC) should have been shortlisted.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Deputy Premier Uhuru Kenyatta urged the selection panel, chaired by Ekuru Aukot, to ensure that the process was free from any form of manipulation in order to prevent a repeat of the 2007 post election violence.
Musyoka and Kenyatta argued that the former commissioners had the requisite experience and that it was therefore discriminatory to leave them out.
“Some of the things that we are seeing in the process of picking these candidates are not very satisfying. We want to see more accountability and transparency in that process; we don’t want to see a situation where people sit in a little corner and decide who makes it,” argued Kenyatta.
Internal Security Minister George Saitoti added that the selection panel should also ensure that the commissioners, who are finally picked, have high integrity to facilitate electoral reforms.
On Thursday five MPs, from different parts of the country, threw a spanner into the works criticising the short list saying that it was biased.
Led by Isiolo South MP Abdul Bahari, the MPs expressed concern that the selection process risked being marred by outside interference as it appeared that the commissioners had already been pre-determined.
Bahari further pointed out that the said individuals had previously been vetted and cleared by various institutions including Parliament before joining the respective commissions.
“It is our hope that this process has not been interfered with politically because unless these things are got right from the beginning, then we will not go anywhere. This is our appeal and we hope that the panel will change its mind because wise people change their mind,” said Bahari.
The MPs also felt that some of the individuals who had failed to make it to the interview process were highly qualified and had been instrumental in spearheading reforms. They however declined to comment on the candidates who had been selected.
Only three commissioners serving in the IIEC and three others from the IIBRC were cleared by the selection panel for the interviews.
Meanwhile the party leaders in the PNU alliance have signed a protocol that compels them to jointly support one flag bearer after holding the joint nomination process, in the event that they lose the nomination.
The party has also resolved to transform the PNU coalition parliamentary group into the PNU alliance parliamentary group with a subscriber membership fee of Sh10,000.
Party Secretary General Kiriatu Muriungi said the protocol agreement, which was signed by party leaders (Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Internal Security George Saitoti) would help strengthen its alliance and stronghold, as the country heads into the forthcoming elections.
“The parties forming the PNU alliance, that is PNU, ODM-K, KANU and all the other affiliate parties – which we call united parties, shall support and implement the principles, Constitution and the rules of the PNU party,” read the protocol in part.
Muriungi explained that the party would hold a joint nomination process, which would be managed by the IEBC, to pick a single flag bearer.
Musyoka, Kenyatta and Saitoti have all declared their interests for the top seat.
“We have many candidates as you can see; the Vice President is a candidate, Prof Saitoti is a candidate, and I will also be a candidate. But the issue is not the personality; the issue is a process of identifying the candidate that will be acceptable to all,” said Kenyatta.