, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 14 – Isaack Hassan and eight commissioners were Monday sworn into office and are now expected to begin work at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission as the country gears up for the 2012 general elections.
The team was sworn in to office at a brief ceremony conducted by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga at the Law Courts.
The commissioners are Yusuf Abdelrahman Nzibo, Mohammed Alawi Hussun, Abdullahi M. Sharawe, Lilian Bokeeye, Thomas Letangule, Joyce Muthoni Wangai, and Kule Galma Godana.
The Chief Justice urged them to discharge their duties with diligence.
“The failure of the 2007 General Election was a manifestation of an oath betrayed. It was a disaster which you must do all within your power and ability to avoid,” the CJ told the new team.
The IEBC will supervise the country’s first general elections under the new Constitution.
He minced no words is describing the 2007 electoral debacle as a ‘constitutional, legal, political and managerial disaster’ that the incoming commission must avoid at all cost.
“There can be no higher crime an individual, an institution, or group of people can commit than one that subverts the sovereign will of the people, or through incompetence, negligence or design make the expression of this will inarticulate.” he said.
The IEBC replaces the Interim Independent Electoral Commission which took over from the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya in 2009. The ECK was disbanded after it bungled Kenya’s last presidential election in 2007, in the process sinking the country into a political turmoil.
He urged the IEBC to ensure that they rebuild and reclaim public confidence in electoral processes.
He advised them to ape its predecessor, the IIEC, which managed to earn public confidence through proper conduct that passes the credibility test ‘rather than through clever institutional guile that merely passes the test of spin.’
Mutunga urged them to uphold their oath of office saying they are ‘not just a ritual or ornamental citations to be treated as adjuncts to your job descriptions.’
He said: “You must therefore treat this oath with the seriousness that it deserves for breach of it not only constitutes a breach of the law. It is also a breach of your conscience, a transgression of your personal honour. But even more fundamentally, it is a breach of the huge trust that the people of this Republic have placed on you.”
Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo advised the team to be prepared for all manner of criticism, especially on the re-mapping of new electoral boundaries.
He advised the commission will have to deal with criticisms, some which will only be ill-intentioned.
“You must be prepared to withstand all manner of criticism that will be thrown your way if only to distract you from your noble mandate,” he said.
The team will be required, in its four months in office, to review constituency boundaries to create 80 new parliamentary seats as demanded by the Constitution.
“Welcome to the hot seat… be prepared to handle not only the 2012 polls, but also the 2017 general election,” the minister cautioned the team.
The team carries the challenge of conducting an election, which is billed as monumental, going by the number of elective positions on the ballot.
Hassan served as the chairman of the now defunct Interim Independent Electoral Commission since May 2009.