NAIROBI, Kenya, May 31 – Two parliamentary committees have resolved to jointly conduct nationwide public hearings to collect public views on the issue of electoral reforms.
National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Chairman Samuel Chepkonga said he and his Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) will jointly release an itinerary for the hearings which he said will be held in all counties.
“We will not leave out any county, we want to hear from everybody on the matter of the review to the election laws and even Kenyans can tell us how can we best reform the IEBC and then we will make adequate recommendations,” he said after a chairing a meeting which was deliberating proposed amendments to the elections laws.
The committee adopted a proposal to have the Public Service Commission to select three independent nominees to form a seven-man Independent Electoral Boundary Commission (IEBC) Selection Panel that will hire the electoral agency commissioners.
The MPs met to weigh between two options one of which would have allowed the National Assembly to pick and vet independent nominees.
Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang and Ugenya MP David Ochieng’ had expressed support for the National Assembly option insisting elections were a political process and therefore parties, big and small, had to be involved.
Kajwang and Ochieng insisted that professional bodies be the ones to nominate the three members of the panel and forward the list to Parliament for vetting and approval.
Njoroge Baiya, Benson Mutura, Waihenya Ndirangu and Irungu Kangata backed the PSC option saying said it would be better if politicians left the role of picking the selection panel to the PSC.
Baiya said the members of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee should not be seen to be want transform their role into a select committee to initiate the recruitment process of new commissioners, a mandate he said belongs to the Executive.
Marakwet West William Cheptumo argued political parties should not be allowed to dictate the matter saying the electoral body is an independent unit that should be left free from any political interference.
Members of the committee present agreed that the panel to pick commissioners should consist of seven members, two each nominated by the majority and minority parties and the rest from political parties not represented in Parliament such as trade unions, employers, Non-Governmental Organisations and Public Benefit Organisations.
Chepkonga concurred with other members that the process of nominating commissioners should be done purely through a parliamentary process just like they did when nominating the chairman and commissioners of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).
The proposed law provides that the majority and minority coalitions will each have two nominees.