NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 16 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is now in the process of engaging lawyers and investigators in a bid to improve its capacity to punish electoral offenders.
Speaking at a forum with media practitioners on Monday, IEBC Chief Executive Officer James Oswago said they had approached relevant government agencies for help in identifying the officers.
“What the electoral commission is doing is to work in collaboration with the Attorney General and the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and we have already approached them to see whether we can have lawyers from the AG’s chambers seconded to the commission at one point before the elections,” Oswago revealed.
He said the Elections Act and the use of competent officers would help the commission to deal effectively with any poll malpractices.
“The reason why it is important to have this competency in the commission is that not only will the commission have the capacity to bark but also can bite immediately and effectively,” he said.
“So we hope to have that capacity to prosecute, investigate and to ensure that we will no longer say that we did not have the capacity or that the law was convoluted.”
The commission will seek investigators from the Criminal Investigations Department to complement its prosecutorial capacity.
He said those recruited will undergo rigorous training in the operations of the commission before they start working.
“You can be one of the best prosecutors in the world but if you are not attuned to what it requires to run an election, then you may have a problem,” he explained.
“We want to take them through the process so that by around June or July, then we will have a full complement of the number of lawyers that we require,” he stated.
He further revealed that the commission will be able to arbitrate on disputes arising from nominations within political parties.
Oswago explained that this will ensure that parties conform to their constitutions.
“When political parties do their nominations and disputes arise, the commission has the power and responsibility to look into that but not issues to do with electoral petitions and issues that have gone to court. This will ensure that various parties conform to their constitution,” he said.